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Warning as ‘dangerous’ plant that can blind you across Somerset Bath City News

A plant dubbed Britain’s most dangerous plant is said to be spreading across parts of the UK. Invasive species can not only cause blindness, but also serious health problems such as blisters, rashes, painful inflammation and permanent spots on the skin.

Giant hogweed has toured several cities across the country and transmitted major health risks, including skin irritation when its toxins seep deep into cells.

WhatShed experts have now created maps to help audiences track where they grow, with sightings expertly verified before being added to recordings. Currently, these maps show that there are several giant hogweed hotspots across the UK, reports the Express.

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According to Yorkshire Live, the maps show where the plant has been sighted and these include places such as Heathrow, Bristol, Maidstone, Belfast and Edinburgh.

You can learn about any culture in your area by visiting the map on your own, as well as recording any sightings you may come across.

What is giant hogweed?

Formerly known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed is part of the Apiaceae family, which includes plants such as parsley, carrot, parsnip, cumin and coriander. However, unlike these household favorites, giant hogweed is an invasive plant that grows and grows and grows.

Originally introduced to the UK in the 19th century from the region of Eurasia, giant hogweed resembles cow parsley in appearance, but oversized. WhatShed experts say it can grow up to 20 feet tall, while each giant hogweed plant can spread to cover a range of around two meters as well, making it very invasive.

The sap is one of the most conspicuous parts of the plant, with its thick green stem bearing patches of purple and white hairs. With thick green leaves that can reach five feet in width, giant hogweeds are aptly named.

An example of the skin burns giant hogweed can cause (Image: Evening Gazette) Why is giant hogweed dangerous?

The risk is apparently very real and people should be aware of the hairy sap of the plant as that is where the danger lies. Containing furocoumarins – toxic organic chemical compounds – they can cause major irritation to people’s skin as the toxins seep deep into a person’s cells.

What are the side effects?

Due to the spiky nature of the sap and its hairs, it is easy for people to rub against giant hogweed without realizing it. If they do, the toxins in the sap could make themselves known in a big way, causing both burns and scars on people’s skin.

In the short term, a person who comes up against giant hogweed may experience blisters and rashes along with painful inflamed areas.

However, the long-term consequences are more dramatic in people facing potential disfigurement or lasting purple patches on the skin. Those most affected might even suffer from skin irritation for months or years after the plant comes into contact with them.

Anyone who thinks giant hogweed only affects humans will have to think again, as the plant has been noted to cause similar side effects in dogs as well. People are therefore advised to be careful when walking with their doggie.

Giant hogweed can cause severe burns (Image: Getty Images) Can giant hogweed kill?

The answer here is unlikely, but people still need to be careful. Although the risks are high in terms of side effects, they have not resulted in death.

However, they can lead to long-term pain, with the sap being particularly dangerous as it can permanently blind someone if it comes into contact with someone’s eyes. Most people who come into contact with giant hogweed require hospitalization, which means they cannot be taken lightly if a blister or rash appears after contact.

Where is giant hogweed found?

A map provided by WhatShed reveals it can be found in and around most major towns in Yorkshire.

What do you do if you come across giant hogweed?

The first rule for anyone finding giant hogweed is to keep their distance as even the slightest touch can cause painful burns and blisters.

However, if anyone has come into contact with it, young, old, or a pet, they should wash the affected area as soon as possible and seek medical attention. Experts also advise trying to get indoors and out of direct sunlight as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of burns.

Blisters caused by giant hogweed (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Although there is no legal requirement for property owners to eradicate giant hogweed, local authorities will often take action to eliminate infestations in public areas. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) lists it in Schedule 9, Section 14, which means it is prohibited to grow giant hogweed in the wild in England and in Wales (similar legislation applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

It may also be subject to anti-social behavior orders where occupants of hogweed-infested ground may be required to remove the weed or face penalties. Local authorities have the power, under certain circumstances, to require the removal of giant hogweed.

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This notice was published: 2022-06-18 09:16:03

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