Essex Rivers Hub

As news reports of Giant Hogweed burns continue to increase in number, awareness of the dangers this plant poses have been highlighted. Here is a rundown of frequently asked questions regarding the plant.

What is Giant Hogweed and where does it come from?

The Giant Hogweed is an invasive species of weed. Native to Central Asia, it was originally imported as an ornamental plant in the 19th century but now grows wild. It is spread when a single plant disperses between 1,000 – 100,000 seeds.

Where is Giant Hogweed found?

 

It is commonly found along riverbanks throughout the British Isles, forming dense clusters that outcompete native species and are detrimental to wildlife.

How is Giant Hogweed identified?

Giant Hogweed grows to a height up to 11.5ft. Its white flowers face upwards and are seen in flat-topped clusters that can be as large as 2ft across. The stems are green and spotted with bristles and purple blotches.

What risks does Giant Hogweed pose to people?

The sap of the Giant Hogweed is phototoxic. This means that should the sap come into contact with someone's skin, the effect of sunlight will cause the sap to become a toxic irritant causing severe skin inflammation and/or greatly exaggerated sunburn. It is often described as removing the body's natural sunscreen. It can take several years for the effects of contact to heal and in some cases can lead to phytophotodermatitis; a condition where exposure of the skin to sunlight can cause severe inflammation.

What should I do if I come into contact with Giant Hogweed?

The NHS state that should you come into contact with Giant Hogweed the affected area should be covered and washed with soap and water. If you begin to feel unwell after contact with Giant Hogweed you should see you doctor.

Remember, Giant Hogweed can only cause harm through contact. Therefore if you Giant Hogweed in Essex please report the sighting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at www.essexwtrecords.org.uk (login required).

Monday 13th July 2015.

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