Warning about dangers of this common but toxic weed is issued in Milton Keynes

The plant is 'extremely toxic' to skin in sunlight

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 11:59 am

People all over MK are being warned not to touch the 'extremely toxic' Giant Hogweed plant often found near lakes and rivers.

The weed, which resembles cow parsley and can grow to a height of five metres, contains a sap that can cause pain and skin lesions similar to burns.

Activated by UV light, the toxins can cause serious problems during summer months, say experts.

Giant Hogweed

National trade body Property Care Association (PCA) is this week urging people to be vigilant and help protect against injury..

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: “Giant Hogweed’s sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.

“Youngsters are more likely to come into contact with the plant during the summertime and the mix of warm weather and rain has provided good conditions for the weed to take hold this year.

He added: “Giant Hogweed is also spreading across a wider area, meaning that people are more likely to encounter it.

Giant Hogweed

“If anyone comes into contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, they can sustain severe blistering to the skin and discomfort, and this reaction can recur for many years.”

Giant Hogweed can produce up to 30,000 to 50,000 seeds, which can survive in the soil for a number of years. It is a tall, cow parsley-like plant with thick bristly stems that are often purple-blotched.

The flowers are white and held in umbels, (flat-topped clusters, like those of carrots or cow parsley). The flower heads can be as large as 60cm across.

The PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group has produced a guidance note on managing Giant Hogweed here .

Dr Fitzsimons said: “The general public, as well as local authorities, statutory agencies and landowners on whose property people can come into contact with the plant, should be aware of the risks and Giant Hogweed needs to be controlled and managed professionally.”

The PCA also provides a means of identifying specialist contractors and consultants with the expertise to control and manage invasive species such as Giant Hogweed, as well as other plants such as Japanese knotweed.”

A full list of companies in the Invasive Weed Control group is available in the ‘Find A Specialist’ section on the PCA website and more details on invasive weeds in general are available via www.property-care.org/homeowners/invasive-weed-control.