A weed dubbed Britain's most dangerous plant because of the horrible burns it inflicts on anyone who touches it – especially children – should thrive in the coming weeks thanks to recent weather conditions.
Hogweeed Giant is spreading rapidly across the UK and recent weather conditions have been perfect for the plant to thrive as we head for the summer.
The plant grows both in gardens and gardens and is becoming common in the UK, but when it comes in contact with the skin it causes a painful rash.
Recent hot weather and plenty of rain after a mild winter created the perfect conditions for this dangerous plant to thrive, reports GloucestershireLive.
The hogweed looks relatively attractive and is part of the carrot family, but contains toxic chemicals.
What is giant hogweed?
The giant hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is a weed that has dangerous effects on human health.
At up to five feet tall, its sap contains toxic substances that react with light when in contact with human skin, causing blisters in 48 hours.
Effectively, it prevents the skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which can lead to very bad burns and burns.
What does the giant hogweed look like?
It's really cute and looks a bit like cow parsley. It has a green stem stained dark red that varies from 3 to 8 cm in diameter. Each dark red spot on the stem involves a hair, and large, coarse white hairs occur at the base of the leaf stem.
It produces white flowers grouped in an umbrella-shaped head that is up to 80 cm in diameter at its flat top.
Colette Jones, president of Friends of Close Park, where Giant Hogweed was spotted, told The Bolton News: "Children are attracted because they grow so tall, they separate them to use them as sticks without realizing how dangerous they are."
What are the symptoms of exposure to giant hogweed?
Exposure can result in blisters, lasting scars and, if in contact with eyes, blindness.
The blisters will form within 48 hours – scars can last for years.
It can also cause prolonged sensitivity to sunlight in people who touch it.
Black or purplish scars can be left on your skin for years afterwards.
What should I do if I contact the giant hogweed?
Medical professionals say that you should cover the affected area and wash with soap and water.
The blisters heal very slowly and can progress to phytophotodermatitis, a type of rash that ignites in the sun.
If you feel bad or have a severe reaction, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Where did the giant hogweed come from?
The giant hogweed was among the foreign plants introduced in Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant, but is now spread all over the British Isles.
It is invasive, which means it chokes other plants and can reduce wildlife in an area.
The plant is native to the Caucasus region and Central Asia.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 made it illegal to plant or cause hogweed giants to grow in nature.
Where do the giant hogweed grow?
It is found in most of the UK, along trails and riverbanks, although it also grows in places like parks, graveyards and vacant lands.
How does the giant hogweed hurt humans?
The giant hogweed sap has chemicals that are toxic to humans and cause photosensitivity. The sap is phototoxic and may cause phytophotodermatitis.
When they touch the skin, they effectively remove any protection from sunlight, causing severe inflammation of the skin.
The children were hospitalized and suffered third degree burns on their skin before.
The severe reaction to the plant is caused by the presence of linear derivatives of furanocomarine in the leaves, seeds, flowers, stems and roots of the plant.
The chemicals enter the nuclei of the cells forming bonds with the DNA and cause the cells to die.
How can I get rid of giant hogweed?
RHS recommends caution when removing the plant – cover your arms and legs and ideally wear a face mask while working on it.
Cutting off plant debris, contaminated clothing and tools are potentially dangerous as well.
Wash any skin that contacts the plant immediately.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 made it illegal to plant or cause hogweed giants to grow in nature. Giant hogweed slacks are held to remove the plant.