Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Weed of the Week - Giant Hogweed

Usually when I feature a Weed of the Week it's something that grows in my own garden or allotment. But I haven't seen any giant hogweed anywhere in my area, and a good thing too.

Giant hogweed looks similar to cow parsley (which does grow in this area and almost everywhere else). But unlike its harmless lookalike, hogweed is huge - it can grow as high as 7m tall - and it has some nasty defences. If hogweed sap gets on your skin and is then exposed to sunlight it causes redness, itching and blisters. Just brushing past the plant can be enough to hospitalise you with severe burns. If the smallest amount of sap gets in your eyes you may go permanently blind. I can't find a reference right now but I am sure I have heard of people injured by swimming in lakes with hogweed growing nearby. The water of the lake became dangerous because of the sap in it.

I was reminded of giant hogweed by a news story about attempts to eradicate it in West Sussex. And I knew about it in the first place because of a Genesis song called The Return of the Giant Hogweed.

16 comments:

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

CRIKEYS! Killer tomatoes have nothing on this beast.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Genesis track about this beastie, I was looking on the tinternet for the lyrics (Peter Gabriel really needs to annunciate more clearly...! Or maybe my stereo is just duff?) and came across a website where people could add their comments about the track. The comment that had been added was -

'I don't like this song because it is not a normal love song with nice lyrics in it. It is scary and makes me nervous about the giant hogweeds. I hope they are not coming. We need to kill them. I do not like songs like this' !!!

Maybe this guy is the same person who came up with the mineral water for dogs idea from a couple of posts ago?! I'm hoping so, or else there's two of them out there!!!

But maybe you might have stumbled upon a new regular feature here - the flora and fauna of common or garden progresive rock albums?? I'm particularly hoping you might do one on the mating habits of the squonk from the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania...

fab blog as always! What other site would give you insane designer peer pressure for pooches, knitting for cats and death by botany on successive pages?!

Andrew

Shelly G & Hope P said...

WOW.. we have nothing like that here in California... Thank goodness... This might be a silly thing to say... but the picture makes the nasty thing look so pretty:)~
shellys.hut@gmail.com

Melanie Rimmer said...

It was originally imported to Britain (from its native home in the Caucasus mountains of Russia) as an ornamental garden plant. Hard to believe, eh? It always makes me think of The Day of the Triffids.

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Stonehead said...

We had a couple of giant hogweed plants here. They were in among some cow parsley, which is what I thought they were, until I pulled them up. I quickly found myself with a nasty, itchy rash on my hands. Fortunately, I seem to have nipped them in the bud as that was two years ago and we haven't found any more.

femsc said...

Andrew said...
"maybe you might have stumbled upon a new regular feature here - the flora and fauna of common or garden progresive rock albums?? I'm particularly hoping you might do one on the mating habits of the squonk from the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania..."

And don't let's forget our old friends the honeysuckle and the bindweed :)
http://tinyurl.com/5px3ju

Fran

Carol said...

Spooky! My man and I were driving along the road last Sunday and I saw what I took to be cow parsley growing to amazing heights. Himself said it was Giant Hogweed although I had never heard of it. It is growing alongside a wee burn and I wondered if someone had spilled fertiliser in the burn and caused the growth. Now I'm worried about the water in the burn. I think livestock use the burn for drinking.

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