Giant Hogweed WARNING: ‘Britain’s most dangerous plant’ to be RAMPANT in hot weather

Giant hogweed is an invasive plant which thrives under certain warm conditions, meaning the population often booms in the summer. As the weather draws children into public spaces, the danger posed by the plants increases. This is because they cause severe reactions if they come into contact with the skin. Parents have been warned by local authorities as giant hogweed threatens to make a return this year.

What is Giant Hogweed?

Giant hogweed is a tall plant, standing as high as 3.5 metres and spreading with a width of one to two metres.

The plant sprouts flowers at its top in flat-topped clusters named ‘umbels’ with purple-blotched, thick stems.

Giant hogweed species are normally of the Heracleum mantegazzianum variety, but according to the Royal Horticultural Society, there are as many as four giant hogweed species in the UK.


All of these secrete the same dangerous sap, making them a danger to humans.

Giant hogweed is a major threat to children in the UK, as the plant can appear completely normal while secreting nasty chemicals.

A harmful toxin in the plant’s sap causes photosensitivity (sensitivity to light) by effectively stripping away the skin’s natural protection from sunlight.

With no protection, the skin becomes red and inflamed and can lead to third-degree burns.

If the sap touches the eyes, it can cause blindness, and children have been hospitalised in the past from their exposure to hogweed.


How do you treat hogweed exposure?

Medical professionals advise to immediately cover the exposed area, and wash it with soap and water when you get home.

Hogweed can also cause severe burns which heal slowly and should be kept out of sunlight to prevent further aggravation.

Anyone experiencing severe skin reaction or sickness should visit a doctor.


Removal of hogweed is a priority to local councils in the UK, and the plant is classed as an ‘invasive alien’.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 compels people living on a property infested by the weed to remove it or face penalties.

Those removing giant hogweed are advised to wear covers to their arms, hands, and head to prevent exposure.

Even plant debris can be particularly dangerous, as the sap will spill from parts of the plant which have been cut down.

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