'UK's most dangerous plant' Giant Hogweed 'rife' in Leeds as shocking map shows where it is found

Parents are being warned to keep children and pets away from a toxic plant that can cause severe burns and even blindness

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 12:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 1:06 pm

Heracleum mantegazzianum, or Giant Hogweed, can reach over 10ft in height and poses a 'serious risk' to people who are unaware of its potential for harm, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.

Giant Hogweed has been described as 'the most dangerous plant in Britain' by the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust.

Toxic sap from the weed, which grows near canals and rivers, can increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight, often leading to burns - and can cause temporary or even permanent blindness if the sap gets into the eye.

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Coming into contact with Giant Hogweed can cause painful blisters (Photo: Incredible Edible / SWNS).

It is also particularly dangerous for dogs.

A map on the Plant Tracker app shows that Giant Hogweed is rife along the River Aire, particularly on the stretch from Stourton to Allerton Bywater, as well as near the city centre, Kirkstall and Bramley.

There have also been verified sightings along Meanwood Beck, Wyke Beck and Great Heads Beck.

A concerned member of the Leeds Crime and Incidents group posted a link to the Plant Tracker app, warning that Giant Hogweed was "rife".

Red dots show the verified sightings of Giant Hogweed in Leeds (Plant Tracker / Google).

She posted: "Found out this horrible thing is pretty rife throughout Yorkshire and particularly along River Aire.

"This is a map of where it grows according to reported sightings.

"Please be careful in this lovely weather!"

Giant Hogweed facts

It is a close relative to cow parsley.

It has thick, bristly, reddish-purple stems and can reach over 3m (10ft) in height.

The flowers are white in a flat-topped clusters that can be as large as 60cm (2ft) across.

Giant Hogweed was originally brought to Britain from Central Asia in 1893.

It commonly grows on riverbanks and wasteland.

Its leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds contain toxic components which can be transferred by contact and make exposed skin extremely sensitive to sunlight.

What to do if you come into contact with it

After coming into contact with the plant, the burns can last for several months and the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years.

The NHS advises: “If the sap of the Giant Hogweed comes into contact with your skin, it can cause severe, painful burns and make your skin sensitive to strong sunlight.

“If you touch a Giant Hogweed, cover the affected area, and wash it with soap and water.

“The blisters heal very slowly and can develop into phytophotodermatitis, a type of skin rash which flares up in sunlight. If you feel unwell after contact with Giant Hogweed, speak to your doctor.”

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