A TOXIC plant posing a danger to public health has prompted a warning from a national trade body across Worcestershire.

The plant sap of Giant Hogweed is extremely toxic and contact with any part of the invasive, non-native weed, followed by exposure to UV light, including the sun, can cause severe discomfort and blistering to the skin. 

The plants have been spotted growing in Shrawley and in several areas across Malvern according to the PlantTracker map.

It is considered one of the most "dangerous plants in Britain" causing people to break out into painful blisters and rashes.

Daniel Docking, technical manager of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group, says it is important that people are aware of the plant so they can avoid any problems. 

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Kidderminster Shuttle: Daniel Docking, technical manager of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group.Daniel Docking, technical manager of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group. (Image: PCA)

He said: “Each year, we have reports of people who have been injured after inadvertently coming into contact with Giant hogweed. 

“Quite often it is children who are affected while playing outdoors in the summer months. 

“Symptoms from exposure can include a rash, itching and blisters where skin comes into contact with it.   

“In some cases, the blistering can be so severe that urgent medical attention is required. 

“It can also become a long-term condition, reoccurring over a period of years, with the rash and the itching coming back every time the skin is exposed to UV light.   

“This year we are particularly concerned, as the wet Spring, coupled with warmer temperatures in mid-May, are providing the optimum conditions for the plant to thrive.” 

The PCA has a five-point guide to help the public identify the plant, covering its main features. 

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Mr Docking: “Giant Hogweed does have distinct features, which should help people to recognise it, although we urge the public not to get too close to the plant to identify it. 

“Sometimes it can be confused with UK’s native Hogweed, Cow Parsley or even Hemlock. However, these are much smaller in size and their leaves have a smoother outline.” 

Giant Hogweed identification:

  • Height - The overriding feature of Giant Hogweed is its sheer size. The plant can grow up to five metres high. 
  • Stem size - It has a stem that measures up to 10 centimetres in diameter.  
  • Flowers - The plant produces a large, white, umbrella-shaped flowering head, with a single umbel capable of producing 50,000 seeds per head.  
  • Leaves - Giant Hogweed has sharply serrated or divided leaves, which reach up to three metres.  
  • Markings - Giant hogweed’s stem is usually covered in blotchy purple markings and sharp bristles can also be found on the stem and under the leaves.