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Residents Warned Over Giant Hogweed Danger

Residents of Highland Perthshire and the rest of Scotland are being Warned by NatureScot over the dangers of giant hogweed, a toxic plant which can cause severe skin blisters, burns and even blindness.

The warning comes ahead of the summer and school holidays when more people will be exploring the outdoors.

NatureScot’s Invasive Species Policy Manager Stan Whitaker said: “It’s really important for people to be able to recognise giant hogweed so they can avoid potentially serious injury.

“Thankfully the plant is relatively easy to identify when fully grown due to its enormous size of between two and four metres tall, with large white clusters of flowers up to 80 centimetres wide.

“It’s leaves are very large and sharply divided and can be over one metre across while the stems are green with purple blotches and covered with bristly hairs.”

Giant hogweed sap contains a toxic chemical, which sensitises the skin to sunlight and causes severe blisters, resulting in burns which can be serious and long lasting. Every year gardeners, walkers, children and animals are hurt by the plant.

The plant is not a native plant species to Scotland but is widespread along central and eastern parts of the country, and commonly found along riverbanks, on waste grounds and beside roads and train tracks.

Dog walkers are also being urged to keep their pets away from giant hogweed, as it is harmful to animals as well as humans.

Anyone who spots giant hogweed growing on amenity land, such as parks, playing fields, footpaths or road verges, should report it to the local authority.

How to recognise giant hogweed:

• Typically, two to four metres tall, with large white clusters of flowers up to 80 cm across – looking like a giant cow parsley.

• Leaves are very large and sharply divided and can be over 1m across.

• Stems are green with purple blotches and covered with bristly hairs.

First aid for contact with giant hogweed:

• Cover the affected area and wash it with soap and water soon as possible following contact.

• Keep the area away from sunlight for at least 48 hours (this includes sunlight on dull, overcast days).

• If you feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed, speak to your doctor.

• Protect the sensitive areas with sunscreen in the following months.

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