The Giant Hogweed is an invader to the USA, Canada and UK, the plant isn’t native but has certainly found a foothold through the British isles in particular. This has been made easier due to its rainy seasons and water ways which enable it’s seeds to spread fervently. Whats all the fuss about? Well the sap of the Giant Hogweed contains furocoumarin, this chemical will make skin extremely sensitive to sunlight and could possibly lead to blisters and burns if left untreated.
If you get any sap on your skin you should wash the area with soap and water as quickly as possible then keep your skin covered from the sun. If a rash or blisters appear you should seek medical attention immediately. In addition to skin irritation and burns you could experience temporary or permanent blindness if it were to come into contact with your eyes and similarly if sap particles are inhaled can result in respiratory difficulties.
Below is some additional information to help you in case you have a run in with this plant.
Giant Hogweed’s when fully grown are massive, they can grow upwards of five and a half meters and have a spread of nearly two meters. These invaders have irregular shaped leaves with jagged edges and hairy undersides. The flowers bloom in summer and have small white clusters that face upwards. The stems are green in colour with purple blotches sporadically found along its length.
Besides the aforementioned countries, these plants are found more specifically by riverbanks where there is an abundance of moist soil and sunlight. Other areas affected by Giant Hogweed include: gardens and allotments adjacent to infected woodland, heathland or common land.
So in conclusion If you see this dangerous plant, report it immediately to your local Giant Hogweed initiative and most of all stay safe and keep an eye out for this invasive weed!