Giant Hogweed: Have you seen the UKs most dangerous plant?

May 19, 2020

Giant hogweed has been in the press again recently and has even been dubbed the most dangerous plant in Britain by the Mersey Rivers Trust.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share some useful information about it with you.

So, without further ado, let’s understand more about giant hogweed and the danger it can present.

What is Giant Hogweed?

First and foremost, giant hogweed is an invasive and potentially harmful plant which is not native to the UK. It is believed to have arrived from Russia in the 1800’s when some seeds were sent to Kew Gardens.

Although it was once hailed for its beauty owing to its striking height, it has in fact been illegal to grow in UK gardens for many decades. However, that doesn’t prevent it thriving in the wild!

It’s commonly found near riverbanks and streams although it has also been found in gardens (due to seeds being spread naturally), on verges and wasteland. Because it thrives in warm weather, the Royal Horticultural Society has warned that there is a risk the warm spring and recent flooding will carry seeds to new locations.

What does Giant Hogweed look like?

Giant hogweed is not dissimilar in appearance to the native hogweed,although the native species can grow to around six foot compared to the possible three to five metres that can be reached by the giant variety.

Hogweed also bears more than a passing resemblance to Cow Parsley – an altogether harmless plant that is commonly found in similar locations to hogweed.

How is Giant Hogweed harmful?

Native hogweed can cause rashes and other skin damage so should be treated with caution. However, giant hogweed is far more toxic, causing burns, blistering and potentially lifelong sensitivity to light.

It can often take up to 48 hours for the full extent of the skin damage to present which can lead to delays in seeking treatment by people who have been in contact with it.

As a result of its risk to public health, local authorities will take steps to remove it from areas where infestations occur and have the power to enforce its removal from privately owned land.

How to remove Giant Hogweed

Removing giant hogweed requires great care to avoid injury,and also to prevent further spread as a result of interfering with the plant. In fact, giant hogweed is classified as controlled waste which means that restrictions apply to how you can dispose of it.

You cannot just take it to your local tip!

Although native hogweed is not a controlled substance, you should still exercise extreme caution when dealing with the removal of it.

In all instances, make sure skin is covered by gloves, sleeves,and trousers. Wear a face mask to protect your face and eyes.

Remember that, once you have finished cutting the plant it still poses a risk to your health as does contaminated clothing and tools so take care to clear up properly, washing your tools and removing clothing carefully.

Seek competent advice

Th safest way to tackle giant, or native hogweed on your property is to use a reputable, experienced and insured contractor to remove it for you.

If you are at all concerned that you might have giant or native hogweed on your property and would like advice on the removal of it, call Claire on 023 8063 2600 or email Claire today.