Giant Hogweed, which has been called “the most dangerous plant in Britain”, discovered last week on the banks of the River Teme at one of Ludlow’s most popular walks, has been removed.
Volunteers from the Friends of Whitcliffe Common, working in protective clothing, tackled the task of getting rid of 10 of the weeds found growing on what is known as Fisherman’s Path on the Breadwalk.
Work party leader Rick Summers said, “Once we learned of the presence of the hogweed we marked off the area to protect the public, putting up warning notices. Then we set about digging up the plants, cutting them up into plastic bags, before taking them to the Craven Arms Amenity site. Because of the toxic nature of the hogweed it cannot be disposed of in the usual green waste bins.”
Giant Hogweed – also known as Giant Cow Parsley or Hogsbane – causes serious skin inflammation involving blisters which can lead to long lasting scars. This is due to toxic chemicals which is present in the leaves, roots, stems and even the flowers and seeds. In some of the more serious cases people have needed treatment in hospital.
Native to the Caucasus and Central Asia, it was first brought to Britain in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant. It has spread to much of Europe and now even the USA and Canada. The plant can grow to almost 20 feet high with dinner plate sized leaves.
While there is no law enforcing its removal, it is an offence to plant or cause it to grow in the wild.
Rick Summers said, “We will be keeping a careful watch to ensure that there are no other plants along the riverbank. We are aware of the risk to the public and will be doing everything we can to minimise that risk. We would be grateful if the public help by also watching out for any other plants.”
This is the second invasive plant which the Friends of Whitcliffe are battling to clear from the common. For the past ten years they have been removing areas of Himalayan Balsam – another plant first brought in by the Victorians for ornamental reasons. Balsam can now be found on most riverbanks in Britain. Like hogweed it is fast growing and can crowd out native species.