CONCERNS have been raised after a giant toxic plant billed 'the most dangerous in Britain' was spotted near Kidderminster town centre.

The Environment Agency has warned people to steer clear of the giant hogweed, which is believed to be growing on the banks of the River Stour in Weavers Wharf, as it can cause burn-like blistering for those who come into close contact with it.

The dangerous plant has been reported in a number of locations across the UK already this summer, and has now been spotted on the banks of the River Stour, opposite Wall2Wall, prompting a complaint to Wyre Forest Council.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Resident Phil Glover said: "It looks worryingly like the dreaded giant hogweed. If it is not destroyed soon it will spread seeds far and wide along the river.

"The council has been notified. If it's in sunlight and someone brushes it they will suffer from blistering and other side effects. It's not a plant to be ignored."

Giant hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is a weed which has dangerous side effects, particularly in children.

The toxic weed can grow to over four metres high and is widespread along riverbanks, footpaths and canal towpaths.

Its sap contains toxic chemicals which react with sunlight when they come into contact with the human skin, causing severe blistering within 48 hours - even when lightly touched.

The plant doesn't look dangerous, and produces white flower clusters in an umbrella-shaped head.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

The blistering it causes is consistent with a chemical burn and can form deep-coloured scars that can last for years.

Hogweed has been billed 'the most dangerous plant in Britain' by the River Trust.

The NHS advises people who come into contact with giant hogweed to cover the affected area and wash it with soap and water, or see a doctor if a reaction develops.

The Environment Agency said it would be down to the landowner to remove the hogweed off the River Stour, but has warned passersby not to get close to it.

Weavers Wharf Shopping Centre has been approached for comment.