Giant hogweed warning after man left with painful blisters in Glasgow

Plant described as UK’s ‘most dangerous’ hails from Central Asia but has been in Britain for 200 years

Tom Batchelor
Tuesday 06 April 2021 14:28 BST
Brush with toxic hogweed plant burns Virginia teen's face

A man from Glasgow has reportedly suffered painful blisters after coming into contact with giant hogweed, a hazardous wild flowering plant found across the UK.

Paul McGeachin, 40, was said to have suffered third degree burns after brushing past the non-native invasive plant on a bridge in the south of Glasgow.

Within 24 hours his legs were covered in blisters and he went to A&E with the pain so severe he was unable to stand, the Daily Record reported.

Doctors told him the blisters could take months to clear up and may scar.

Giant hogweed, dubbed the UK’s “most dangerous” plant, has been spreading across the country for years.

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Originally found in the Caucus Mountains of Central Asia, the carrot family member known as Heracleum giganteum is thought to have been first introduced to Britain in 1817, when seeds were sent from Russia to Kew Gardens.

While initially favoured in ornamental gardens due to its attractive appearance and delicate, white flowers, it became illegal to grow the plant in gardens under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 due to its toxicity.

Giant hogweed resembles enormous cow parsley and can grow up to 5m tall.

It is most easily recognised in June and July when its small and white flowers appear, clustered on umbrella-like heads that can be as broad as 60cm in diameter.

Injuries from the toxic sap result in the skin becoming sensitive to sunlight, which can lead to further blisters, scarring or sun damage years later. The sap can also lead to blindness if it gets in the eyes.

People who come into contact with giant hogweed are advised to wash the area thoroughly and seek medical advice. They should also keep the area of skin covered from the sunlight for several days.

Giant hogweed typically grows near canals and rivers, but it has also spread to gardens and parks – from Inverness to Kent – in recent years.

In one prominent case in 2015, five children were left with severe burns after coming into contact with the plant in parks in Manchester.

A seven-year-old girl was left with permanent scarring following her contact with the hogweed found growing in Clifton Country Park in Salford.

And four teenage boys came into contact with a different outbreak of hogweed in Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton, with two of the group requiring hospital treatment.

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