The sap of the Giant Hogweed can cause phytophotodermatitis (PPD) which isn’t easy to say and even more painful to experience. Basically, the sap reacts with sunlight to cause blistering and burns on the skin.
Tom explained, “I was badly burnt 2 years ago. Despite all my experience and being fully kitted out in the appropriate protective clothing, the sap went through the seams of my protective suit.
I have also known of a child spending 3 weeks in hospital as a result of playing amongst the weed; it grows to about 15 feet with a leaf span of up to 9 foot which makes it attractive for kids to make dens with. Everyone should familiarise themselves with this dangerous plant.”
It will push effortlessly through brickwork, stonework, concrete and even tarmac. “This is the most damaging of the invasive plants,” explains Tom. “Thankfully research and experience show that leaf spraying programmes later in the year are eradicating it. If sprayed late in the autumn, the plant is busy taking all the nutrients from the top growth back down into the rhizomes to use next spring, and it takes the toxins down too. We have a 90% success rate.” he says proudly.
Most of the non native invasive plants were actually imported by the Victorians and subsequently have found their way out of Kew Gardens, where they were displayed.
Other non native invasive plants or that are causing problems include Water Primrose, Parrots’ Feather, Ragwort, Rhododendron ponticum and even the herbaceous horror, Montbretia.