As you may have seen from many news articles, Giant Hogweed can be very dangerous to humans, causing blisters and burns to the skin. The sap from the plant causes photosensitivity and photodermatitis on the skin, meaning that when it is exposed to the sunlight it can cause pigmentation, burns and blisters – extremely painful and damaging to anyone who is unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.
What does giant Hogweed look like?
The danger of Giant Hogweed is that is can be easily mistaken for the harmless cow parsley as it is a long stemmed green plant with white flowers.
However, you can identify if the plant is Giant Hogweed by its much larger appearance. Hogweed can grow as high as three metres and is much more ‘giant’ in appearance. The leaves and flowers are much larger and there are purple blotches on the hollow green stem, with stiff white hairs and jagged leaves.
Why is it important to get Hogweed removed?
Hogweed removal is usually essential to prevent danger to others as well as protect the surrounding wildlife and native plants. Hogweed has the potential to produce 20,000 seeds that can spread over 30 feet and remain viable for fifteen years – therefore it can easily become out of control.
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to cause Giant Hogweed to grow in the wild in England and Wales and can even land you with an ASBO! Local authorities have the power to require it to be removed, so if it appears on your land be prepared to remove it.
How do you remove giant Hogweed?
It is best to remove hogweed in a non-chemical way to protect the environment, which can be done by digging up the plant from the root and supressing with mulch. For larger plants, you may need to try loosening the roots with a fork. This should be done with protective equipment to avoid the plant coming into contact with the skin – so you should wear gloves, cover your arms and legs and wear a face mask to reduce your risk. It is also important to consider contaminated items such as the cut plant debris, clothes and tools and ensure they are disposed of or cleaned safely to prevent cross-contamination.
If any of the sap does come into contact with your skin, you should wash it off immediately and seek medical attention as well as avoiding direct sunlight. It is best to attempt Hogweed removal on overcast days when there isn’t direct sunlight.
When is the best time to remove giant Hogweed?
The best time to attempt to remove giant hogweed is in the spring when the soil is moist, ideally around May, when the plants are young and have reached a reasonable height but have not yet flowered. This prevents scattering seeds when removing the plant.
Get in touch with the Hogweed removal specialists
If you are worried about doing Hogweed removal yourself or if the Giant Hogweed has covered a large area, it is best to get horticulture professionals such as Essex Tree Brothers to remove it for you. We have the knowledge and experience to ensure we can thoroughly remove this nuisance weed in a safe and responsible way as well as dispose of it for you in compliance with controlled waste rules. To find out more, please get in touch with us today.