Giant Hogweed: The facts and how to spot it
Heracleum Mantegazzianum, otherwise known as Giant Hogweed, is an invasive and potentially harmful plant that can cause severe blisters and burns to the skin.
What is it?
For a toxic plant, giant hogweed is surprisingly attractive, reaching heights of 11ft tall with thick leaves stretching five feet wide and large clusters of white flowers. Hogweed can be found anywhere in the countryside, but is often seen growing at the side of rivers and waterways.
The chemicals in the plants sap are harmful and can cause photosensitvity or photodermatitis upon contact, where the skin becomes very sensitive to the sun. The light-sensitive skin reaction causes painful blisters that form within 48 hours, and can result in scars that can last anywhere from a few months to six years. The plant can also cause blindness if the sap gets in contact with the eye.
What to do if you touch it
If you touch Giant Hogweed, cover the affected area, wash it with soap and cold water immediately, and consult your doctor if a reaction occurs. Skin that has come into contact with the hogweed should then remain covered to avoid sunburn.
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