The dangers of Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed titleThere have been some incidents in our local area recently where children have come into contact with Giant Hogweed. Some have suffered burns as a result. A park nearby has Giant Hogweed growing along the riverbank, so people who aren’t aware of the dangers of the plant have had their skin come into contact with it and suffered a reaction.

So for day 5 of our #30DaysWild we took the boys to find some Giant Hogweed. We talked about how to identify it and taught them of the dangers.

Giant Hogweed: What is it?

Giant Hogweed is a highly phototoxic plant. On contact with your skin it will cause a reaction leading to painful blistering once the affected skin is exposed to sunlight. Affected areas of skin can be vulnerable for up to seven years after contact with Giant Hogweed.

With this in mind I’d say it was pretty important to know what Giant Hogweed looks like if you’re going to be out walking near fresh water. Luckily for you, the boys have made a short video clip warning you of the dangers.

Please note: the groovy dancing is optional, but you may find yourself in a better mood if you tried it!

The Hogweed we found was relatively small in comparison to the size of some, so we weren’t certain which one it was. Giant Hogweed plants can be over 4 metres tall. Common Hogweed only grows to around 2 metres. Both the common and the giant variety have small white flowers with up to 50 stems growing together. The common plant will have no more than 20.

If you’re not sure which type of Hogweed you’ve come across – steer clear. A quick check of a field guide may clear it up but if in doubt, leave it.

The Wildlife Trusts website or Wild Food UK give lots more information on both variations of the plant. I found both to be a very good source of information. The images below give you some close up ideas of what Giant Hogweed looks like.

Thanks to Wild Food UK for permission to use these images

Thanks to Wild Food UK for permission to use these images

What is #30DaysWild?

I am trying to cover a variety of nature and wildlife related topics during June as part of our #30DaysWild project. Guest posts are welcome before the end of the month. See my contact page for more details.

30 Days Wild is an initiative by The Wildlife Trusts, running throughout June. See their website for more details.

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