It’s that time of year when the UK’s largest herbaceous plant, Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), is beginning to flower. The characteristic umbrella-shaped flower heads of Giant Hogweed can reach close to 1 metre in diameter! Given that the stems can grow to 5 metres tall, it is truly a menacing species, but the true menace lies within the plant. The plant’s phototoxic sap is the real threat to people. The sap causes severe chemical burns as a result of stripping the skin of its natural UV protection. The burns can develop in to huge blisters and leave permanent scars.
This week, the Daily Mail reported on a gardener who was seriously injured by Giant Hogweed. The full story can be found here.
What is being done about Giant Hogweed? Most commonly, herbicide treatment is being used to stop the spread of Giant Hogweed in areas such as riverbanks, roadways and footpaths. Unfortunately, due to the possibility that it may take many years of control to achieve eradication, very few people or organisations stay committed to ridding their land of this plant.
One of the pro-active groups that are continuing the fight against Giant Hogweed, despite funding cuts, is the Ayrshire Rivers Trust (ART). Since 2011, ART has been involved in controlling non-native invasive species from the waterways in Ayrshire. Invasive Weeds Agency have been proud to assist on as many waterways as possible. As a result of ART and their contractors hard work, there have been huge reductions in the infestations of Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam.
This week, Invasive Weeds Agency has been busy controlling Giant Hogweed on a 13km stretch of the River Garnock, from Dalry to Irvine. It’s great to be working for ART again and we look forward to eliminating all of the Giant Hogweed on the river before it seeds.
IWA. Getting to the root of the problem.