A quick solution to ‘giant’ problems

April 28, 2020

With less urgent tasks dropping into email in-boxes, there is more time to turn to those jobs which get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. So, if you have a clump of Giant Hogweed growing on your premises you’ve just not got round to dealing with, it’s a perfect time to tackle the problem.

While Giant Hogweed is an attractive striking plant, it has the potential to be invasive and its sap can cause severe skin burns. When the skin comes into contact with the sap and is exposed to sunlight, the skin may blister, suffer pigmentation and long-lasting scars.

Although there are no regulations requiring the removal or reporting of Giant Hogweed on your property, it is an offence to cause it to grow in the wild and left unattended, there is a potential for the plant to spread by seed out with your property. It is therefore good practice to report it to the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) website.

Giant Hogweed can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Large white flowers clustered in an umbrella shape.
  • Flower heads up to 80cm across.
  • Can reach a height of 5m
  • Thick bristly stems that are often purple-blotched.

An identification sheet can be found here on the NNSS website, however, if you are unsure about the identification of a plant on your premises, GP Plantscape are able to assist in this process.

Control

Once the presence of Giant Hogweed has been confirmed, we can use a stem injection method to eradicate the plant, but this can only be carried out when the young stem is emerging, so it’s important to identify the growth early in the season.

Stem injection works by injecting a controlled quantity of herbicide into the main stem unlike traditional herbicidal treatment which is applied to the plants leaf. Stem injection therefore poses less risk to the environment, as it has no effect on surrounding vegetation and is also safe to use near watercourses and in environmentally sensitive areas.

Furthermore, where traditional spraying methods are severely compromised by weather conditions and cannot be applied during heavy winds or rain, stem injection is not weather dependant. The stem injection process is also extremely effective and suppression can normally be achieved in one growing season as opposed to 3 to 5 years using a spraying technique.

For help in identifying or treating any non-native species please call GP Plantscape on 0808 100 3120.

More guidance can be found about non-native species on the Scottish Government website and on the UK Government website.