A map shows all of the places “the most dangerous plant in Britain” can been found in Merseyside.
Giant hogweed, an invasive plant that was first introduced in the 19th century, can cause blistering and scars and even permanent blindness. The sap of the plant is phototoxic which means people can blister easily when exposed to the sun.
It was planted in gardens by rivers and ponds and continued to be used until the mid-20th century even as its dangers were more widely known.
The plant then spread rapidly in the 1960s and it is now classed as the most invasive species in Europe according to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI).
According to a Plant Atlas published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI ), the plant can be found in or near the following places in Cheshire and Merseyside:
Another map run by What Shed reports sighting by the public that have been verified by the Biological Records Centre. This provides the more precise location of each plant
Recently, it was reported that a school boy had to be taken to hospital after coming into contact with the plant at Leasowe Bay on the Wirral.
According to Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group, there are five ways to identify giant hogweed.
Height – As its name implies, the overriding feature of Giant hogweed is its sheer size. The plant can grow up to five metres high.
Stem size – It has a stem that measures up to 10 centimetres in diameter.
Flowers – The plant produces a large, white, umbrella-shaped flowering head, with a single umbel capable of producing 50,000 seeds per head.
Leaves – Giant hogweed has sharply serrated or divided leaves, which reach up to three metres.
Markings – Giant hogweed’s stem is usually covered in blotchy purple markings. Sharp bristles can also be found on the stem and under the leaves.
A spokesperson for Wirral Council said, “All sightings of giant hogweed are mapped and treated accordingly when identified or when reported to the local authority.”
The council said Hogweed was first identified on the coastline near Leasowe in 2017 and “the area continues to be monitored and any recurrences of giant hogweed are treated.”
Wirral Council usually carries out treatment of giant hogweed in June and July when it is in full growth using glyphosate weed killer. The plant will die about seven to 10 days after.
Like the invasive Japanese Knotweed, it should only be removed and taken to landfill with the correct paperwork.
People can report sightings of giant hogweed here
Image: Bill Kasman