Thursday, 8 May 2008

Giant Hogweed

Whilst enjoying a BBQ yesterday evening with Steve and Andy (my current neighbours), Steve spotted some Giant Hogweed growing on the towpath. As far as I know, I have never come across the stuff before but according to Wikipedia it's pretty nasty stuff:

Giant Hogweed is a phototoxic plant. Its sap can cause photodermatitis ie severe skin inflammations when the skin is exposed to sunlight or to UV-rays. Initially the skin colours red and starts itching. Then blisters form as in burns within 48 hours. They form black or purplish scars, which can last several years. Hospitalisation may become necessary. Presence of minute amounts of sap in the eyes, can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness. These reactions are caused by the presence of linear derivatives of furocoumarin in its leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds. These chemicals can get into the nucleus of the epithelial cells, forming a bond with the DNA, causing the cells to die. The brown colour is caused by the production of melanin by furocoumarins. In Germany, where this plant has become a real nuisance, there were about 16,000 victims in 2003.

Giant Hogweed (close-up)Children should be kept away from Giant Hogweed, and protective clothing (including eye protection) should be worn when handling it or digging it. If skin is exposed, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and the exposed skin protected from the sun for several days.

I'll try and remember to get a photo of it tonight.

You have been warned, kids!

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