Introduced by the Victorians this relation of Cow Parsley can grow up to 5m tall and is common on wasteland and riverbanks. The sap it produces reacts with sunlight on skin causing severe chemical burns and blistering even years after contact. The harmful effects may not be noticed for some considerable time during contact increasing the likelihood of greater contact to the toxic sap.
Giant Hogweed can be confused with Hogweed when its growth is stunted. Children often use the stems for pea shooters which lead to hand/facial blistering however exposure and subsequent burns can be sustained by merely brushing past the leaves or handling contaminated clothes.
Taken from www.nonnativespecies.org.uk
TREATMENT - If you come into contact with the sap IMMEDIATELY wash the affected area with copious amounts of water and soap then cover. Seek medical advice.
GIANT HOGWEED ADVICE
Learn to recognise Giant Hogweed and teach children of its dangers
Avoid and isolate areas with Giant Hogweed present
Assume Hogweed could be stunted Giant Hogweed
DO NOT attempt to remove Giant Hogweed as this is an operation that requires specialist protection instead ISOLATE and REPORT to the Landowner.
Giant Hogweed and the law
It is illegal to plant Giant Hogweed in the wild potentially leading to a fine and up to 2 years imprisonment however there is no legal obligation for a landowner to remove it under law that controls the spread of invasive species.
However, land owners are required to provide a duty of care to those on their land including trespassers. Any injury resulting from Giant Hogweed could result in criminal or civil proceedings against the land owner.
PICTURES Chemical burns sustained by exposure to Giant Hogweed. These will reoccur to varying degrees for years with exposure to sunlight.