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Public asked to report sightings of Giant Hogweed 10 July 2006

“Have you seen this plant?” The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is appealing to landowners and the public to report sightings of giant hogweed (whose scientific name is Heracleum mantegazzianum), which has colonised some parts of the Island. The plant has a poisonous sap and should not be handled without first seeking expert advice. Definitely do not use a strimmer on it.Giant Hogweed

Like many invasive plants causing problems in the British Isles, giant hogweed was originally imported as a garden ornamental. It easily colonises waste-ground and can spread rapidly along watercourses, as the thousands of seeds produced can be transported in water. It looks somewhat similar to common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) but it is a much stouter and taller plant (up to 5m), and its deeply-lobed leaves have a spikier appearance. Its green, ribbed stems are often blotched with purple or dark red and its umbels of white flowers can be up to 50cm across.

By shading out native vegetation, giant hogweed can leave banks bare and prone to erosion in the winter if dense colonies are allowed to form. However, it is also directly dangerous to Giant Hogweed in full floweranyone who comes into contact with it. The small hairs on its stems and leaves can penetrate light fabrics and contain poisonous sap, which irritates and causes painful blistering 24-48 hours after exposure. Affected areas of skin may sometimes become discoloured for up to several years.

River Management Officer, Karen Galtress, says “If you have giant hogweed on your land, you are legally obliged, under the Injurious Weeds Act 1957, to control it but, in order to avoid injury, please seek expert advice from the DAFF on 842335 before attempting to do so. Please also inform the Department if you see it elsewhere on the Island or need advice on other invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.”

If you do come into contact with the sap of giant hogweed, the skin should be covered to avoid exposure to sunlight, and washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Further information on invasive plants can also be found on the UK Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

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