Stay safe this summer — avoid Giant Hogweed

Folk in Orkney are being warned about the dangers of Giant Hogweed, this summer.
The plant, which can grow up to three metres in height, poses a serious threat to public health.

It’s been a bonny few nights this past week — an opportune time to go for a summer’s walk. But folk are being warned about the dangers of an oft-seen weed, which could cause you serious harm.

National trade body — The Property Care Association (PCA) — has urged folk to take caution, as the invasive Giant Hogweed takes hold, this summer.

The plant’s sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health. If anyone comes into contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, they can sustain severe blistering to the skin and discomfort. According to PCA, this can become a long-term condition, recurring in subsequent summers.

“Giant Hogweed is turning out to be a problem again this summer,” said Professor Max Wade, chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group.

“It is continuing to spread and, in one area alone, I’ve seen it appear in five new locations.”

Professor Wade has emphasised that if the plant is spotted, folk should avoid coming into direct contact with it at all costs. An added concern is the fact that Giant Hogweed sap which comes into contact with items such as clothing and equipment can also be transferred via touch, so it can possibly affect somebody else.

In previous years, there have been a number of reports of people sustaining injuries after coming into contact with the invasive weed in the UK. Professor Wade advises that if contact is made with the plant, the affected area should be covered from sunlight and the skin washed with water as quickly as possible. 

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