Toxic giant hogweed growing in popular Stroud meadow

A ‘10ft tall’ highly toxic plant has been located in Ebley which leaves people with severe skin burns.

The plant, giant hogweed, was removed before another sprung up in Ebley Meadows at a popular spot for dog walkers where children often swim in the river Frome.

Giant hogweed contains a chemical called furocoumarin that can cause bad blistering and ‘blindness.’

Laura Downey, who spotted the first plant which has since been removed, said: “I was surprised at how big it was, probably about 10-11 ft tall.” 

“At first we wondered what it was – found out via Google as I’d never seen one that big before,” she said, adding she was glad she didn’t touch it.

Stroud News and Journal:

A Stroud District Council spokesperson confirmed the report of the remaining giant hogweed in Ebley Meadows and said they will contact the landowner with advice on how to identify, control and dispose of this non-native invasive plant.

Government rules stipulate that no one is allowed to plant or grow non-native or invasive not-native plants in the wild such as giant hogweed, but landowners have no obligation in law to remove these plants or control them on their land.

Stroud News and Journal: The giant hogweed plant which remains growing in Ebley MeadowsThe giant hogweed plant which remains growing in Ebley Meadows

First aid trainers Mini First Aid issued a warning earlier this summer on Facebook: “Now is the season for ‘Britain’s most dangerous plant’.

“It is nearly always found near rivers and canals, meaning unsuspecting members of the public may come into contact with it.

“It causes horrendous blistering burns just from gentle contact. The burns can last for several months and the skin remains sensitive to UV light for many years. If near the eyes it can cause blindness.

“All parents, please warn your children not to touch the plant as the leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds all contain this terrible poisonous toxin.

“Any parts of the body that come into contact with the sap of a giant hogweed should be immediately washed with soap and cold water and seek medical advice. Further exposure to sunlight should be avoided for at least 48 hours.”

Stroud News and Journal:

Giant Hogweed is part of the Apiaceae family, which includes well known vegetables and herbs like parsley, carrot, parsnip and coriander.

You can tell the difference between giant hogweed and regular hogweed or cow parsley by the latters’ more rounded leaves.

Cow parsley can only grow about 3-4 feet and has smaller florets and broader leaves.

If you come into contact with the plant, you should wash the area with mild soap and cool water as quickly as possible, according to Healthline.

You should keep the skin covered when you’re outside to protect it from the sunlight.

If a rash or blister begins to form, you should seek medical attention.

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