Giant hogweed alert over painful injuries

Peter Bowdler
Peter Bowdler

A LEIGH environmental campaigner is calling on the Government to take action to tackle dangerous plants found in the borough.

Peter Bowdler (pictured above) says landowners should be forced to remove giant hogweed, which can cause severe blisters, scarring or even blindness.

He is calling on environment chiefs to added the danger weed to a list of toxic plants, under the Weeds Act 1959, to enforce its removal.

Giant hogweed, which has most recently been found in Plank Lane, Leigh, can be so corrosive that even brushing against the plant can cause serious injury or skin problems.

Mr Bowdler, pictured above, giant hogweed of Dakins Road, Leigh, said: “The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology gives an in-depth report to the toxicity and dangers of this plant to humans.

“Not only is the sap from the stem toxic, but brushing against the hairs of its leaves has the same the affect.

“It makes your skin photo-sensitive – meaning the skin reacts with ultra violet light – and causes burning and scaring for up to 20 years.

“And yet despite these dangers, giant hogweed is not on the list of notifiable weeds.

“I won’t give up until the Government includes giant hogweed in the dangerous plants list and makes its removal compulsory.

“My fear is that anyone not knowing about this plant could be affected. A child may get struck across the face or eyes, causing a serious scar or burn.”

Giant hogweed can be identified by its reddish-purple stem with fine spines, and its spotted leaf stalks.

The plant has flower heads which can each produce about 50,000 seeds every year.

The danger of giant hogweed lies in the sap it produces, which can cause severe skin inflammation when the skin is exposed to sunlight or to UV-rays.

Initially the skin colours red and starts itching.

Blisters often form within 48 hours, leaving black or purplish scars that can last several years.