WARNINGS have issued after the spread of an ‘invasive species’ has become increasingly rapid across Britain.

Giant hogweed is known as the most dangerous plant in Britain, and just lightly touching the plant’s sap can pose a considerable threat to human health.

In Warrington, around 24 cases of giant hogweed have been found across Lymm, Woolston, Thelwall, Latchford, Howley, Sankey and Warrington town centre.

The dangerous plant can grow from 12 to 20 feet tall and its appearance includes a thick green stem with patches of purple and white hairs.

It also has thick green leaves that can grow as large as five feet wide and white flowers whose heads can grow as big as two and a half feet in diameter.

After contact with the skin, the first signs of dermatitis appear one to three days after contact with the sap.

Around 48 hours later, large blisters will start to arise which will later turn into brown scars which can last between 2 months to six years.

Experts have advised the best way to avoid injury is by getting to grips with that the plant looks like, and when outdoors avoid patches of giant hogweed as brushing past the plants could mean exposure to the dangerous sap.

Picture: WhatShed/Interactive Hogweed Map

Picture: WhatShed/Interactive Hogweed Map

If the sap gets on your skin, experts have advised that you should:

• Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cold water

• Keep the exposed area away from sunlight for at least 48 hours

• Visit a doctor as soon as signs of reaction occur

• If a skin reaction does occur, topical steroids applied early on can reduce how severe the reaction is

• If the sap goes near or in the eyes, thoroughly rinse them with water for around 10 minutes and wear sunglasses, making sure to see a doctor as soon as possible

• If a reaction has occurred, the area of skin will be sensitive to sunlight for several years, so use sun cream on the affected area to protect it

To help to identify where giant hogweed is coming from, the Biological Records Centre’s iRecord system WhatShed have created an interactive map that shows all the locations for giant hogweed sightings in the UK.

For more details, visit: https://whatshed.co.uk/giant-hogweed-map/