Giant hogweed is an invasive and potentially harmful weed often found on farmland, woodland, towns and gardens. It can be toxic if the sap touches the skin so caution is absolutely necessary when managing this weed.
What is Giant Hogweed?
Originally introduced to the UK as an ornamental plant by the Victorians for lakesides and gardens Giant hogweed is an impressive sight when fully grown but can potentially be very harmful. The sap the weed produces contains chemicals that can cause the skin to become very sensitive to sunlight and in some cases cause blistering leaving long term scars. This weed produces white flowers which actually look quite pretty and only blooms once in a lifetime.
How can I identify Giant Hogweed?
Giant Hogweed produces clustered white flowers in an umbrella shape and dark green leaves. Each white flower has 50-150 flower rays clustered into an umbrella shaped flower up to 2.5 feet across, this weed can grow up to five metres tall.
Giant hogweed characteristics:
- Long green stems which branch out into clusters of small white flowers.
- Generally hairy in appearance, and while some will show purple colouring most remain green.
- The stems can reach up to 5 inches in diameter.
- Giant hogweed leaves are divided into three or five lobes and sharply pointed with a spiky appearance.
- Leaf edges will be serrated.
- Typically this weed becomes a nuisance between June and August.
Giant Hogweed can be very harmful
Giant Hogweed produces a sap, when this sap comes into contact with skin, it can cause severe burns and make your skin more sensitive to strong sunlight. This can develop into something more serious called phytophotodermatitis, also known as Lime disease which means your skin becomes hypersensitive to ultraviolet light.
If you come into contact with Giant Hogweed, ensure you wash the affected area well with soap and cold water as soon as you can. Ensure you stay away from sunlight for at least 48 hours. Please seek medical advice if you have a reaction to the saps chemicals.
How to handle Giant hogweed
- Do not touch the plant with bare skin
- Do not dispose any cuttings in general garden waste or compost, this could ignite another outbreak
- Do not transport seeds to new sites
- Keep away from eyes. Sap of giant hogweed may induce temporary or permanent blindness when it comes in contact with eyes
- Sowing and planting Giant hogweed is strictly prohibited
- Wear protective clothing if you touch the plant
- Monitor the area. Seeds may remain in the soil for up to 15 years and therefore long-term monitoring is very important to spot the emergence of any hogweed seedlings or regrowth from previous year’s plants.
- Mowing equipment should be cleaned before using again to avoid spreading hogweed seeds.
- Contact us to speak to one of our experts on how we can help!
If you feel you may have identified a plant to be Giant Hogweed,
contact us today to speak to one of our experts to see how we can help you.