Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed is a native of the Caucasus mountains and was introduced to Britain in 1893 as an ornamental plant. It escaped from gardens and now colonises many areas of wasteland and riverbanks. 
Each flower head produces several thousand seeds that are easily dispersed by water, so the plant spreads rapidly along watercourses. It is a perennial plant, taking up to four years to mature and flower, after which it dies. It forms dense colonies that suppress the growth of native plants and grasses, leaving the banks bare of vegetation in winter and increasing the risk of erosion and re-colonisation from seeds washed downstream..  

Why is Giant Hogweed a Health Hazard?
Giant Hogweed is a serious health hazard as the sap is photosensitizing on human and animal skin. Severe burns to the skin are common following exposure and full recovery from these effects can take months or even years; scarring of the skin may also result. More severe results from exposure to the sap are not unknown, blindness (permanent or temporary) has been reported, as has death.
If anyone has been exposed to the sap, recommended first aid includes:

  • Keep any areas of skin exposed to the sap away from sunlight
  • Wash skin with soapy water
  • Irrigate eyes (if sap has come into contact with eyes) with eyewash solution
  • Seek medical advice – NHS Direct will be able to advise you further.

Managing Giant Hogweed

Treatment of Giant Hogweed is a fairly simple matter in that it is susceptible to several professional herbicides and the growing plants can be killed quite successfully, following 1-2 treatments. However it does require a specialist risk assessment and protective clothing is required.

Each individual project is managed by a dedicated member of our Operations Team, who will oversee the programme. 4th Corner are SafeContractor approved and are accredited to the government’s TrustMark scheme. We are also members of the Association of Professional Landscapers and British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI). Our teams of experts are also LANTRA Certified.