Plans for monster plants to meet their match

Published Friday 30 October 2009

Pennington resident Jan Scott is warning people about the dangers of a giant plant whose toxic sap can cause massive blisters.

Mrs Scott was cutting back the invasive Giant Hogweed plants in her garden when sap from the plant reacted with sunlight to cause painful burns on her arms and leg.

She is now helping to highlight a project led by the New Forest National Park Authority and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust get rid of the non-native species.

Mrs Scott said: ‘The plant was about 13ft high in our garden on the Avon Water, with massive flower heads and huge amounts of seeds. The stem was about two inches in diameter and we were chopping them down at the base.

‘The sap splashed up on my arms and then I slipped and fell on one which had been cut down. I washed my arms but it was only later I realised it had burnt my leg as well.

‘In the afternoon I was in the sunshine, which aggravates it more, and by the end of the day I had massive burns all the way up my arms and the one on my leg was terrible. They blistered like burns and turned into vivid purple scars which lasted for about a year. It was about three years ago I was burnt by the plants, but each year we try to get rid of them and they still come back. I don’t think people realise what a menace they are.’

There have also been cases of children using the hollow plant stems as pea-shooters and getting blisters around their mouths, or as telescopes and getting serious burns around their eyes.

The New Forest National Park and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are calling on residents and landowners to let them know if they have Giant Hogweed on their land.

The National Park’s Ecologist Ian Barker said: ‘These plants are not only harmful to humans but also to the countryside. Their strong growth can force out our native species and they can spread alarmingly quickly.‘

Catherine Chatters, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, said the project is targeting a total of five invasive species.

‘We are developing a record of where the plants are growing on river valleys and wetlands,’ she said. ‘We can then give advice and arrange for work to get rid of them or control their growth.’

Contact Catherine on 023 8042 4205 or email her at catherinec@hwt.org.uk. Visit www.hwt.org.uk/pages/new-forest-non-native-plants-project for more details.

-ends-

Media Contact:
Karen Evans, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: karen.evans@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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