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Hogweed spotted in town
9:00am Friday 9th August 2013 in News
DEADLY Giant Hogweed, which can cause blindness and serious skin burns, has been spotted on a popular cycle route on the outskirts of Warrington.
Friends Nick Platt-Higgins and Brendan Adams, from Westbrook, were blissfully unaware that they were just yards away from the plant - close to the Manchester Ship canal at Moore - which contains a toxic sap that can cause severe blisters and burns.
Nick, aged 46, said: “We stopped to take closer look at the plant because of its size and beauty. It was magnificent.
“I never thought for one moment that it could be so dangerous.”
Later that evening, Nick posted the photograph of the Giant Hogweed, also known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, on Facebook and was left astounded by the comments posted by friends underneath.
Nick said: “I expected people to comment of its beauty - not that it can blind and burn humans.
“One of my friends quickly identified the plant as Giant Hogweed and I couldn’t believe it.
“I never thought something so beautiful could be so deadly. “ Extensive infestations of the plant are found particularly in Scotland and the north of England and are hard to remove safely.
Invasive plants such as Giant Hogweed pose a risk to the environment around our rivers and are well known to local authorities as a public health hazard.
The removal of species such as Giant Hogweed has already cost the British economy a minimum of £1.7 billion per annum and they are spreading quickly across the UK.
In 2011 to 2012, the Environment Agency and its partners spent £657,000 on controlling the species.
Contact with any part of this plant must be avoided as even minute amounts of sap can cause blistering of the skin following exposure to sunlight.
To help track the Giant Hogweed then download the plant tracker app at planttracker.naturelocator.org.
How to identify Giant Hogweed:
Has a reddish purple stem with fine spines that make it appear furry - like a stinging nettle
Has hollow stems
Has spotted leaf stalks
Has leaves up to 1.5 metres wide Flowers in June and July
Has flower heads that are usually 50 centimetres wide
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