A child has been left with horrendous second-degree burns after coming into contact with Giant Hogweed in Bolton.
The four-year-old girl was playing in Longsight Park in the Harwood area when she touched the hazardous wild flowering plant on Saturday June 4.
The youngster developed severe blistering which required hospital treatment, prompting her primary school to issue an urgent warning.
In a statement, Hardy Mill Primary School said: ‘One of our children has sadly been in contact with this plant over the half term break and ended up at the hospital with second degree burns.
Please look out for this plant in your garden and when out and about with you children.
A four-year-old girl from Bolton was left with second-degree burns after touching the toxic sap of a Giant Hogweed, prompting her school to put out a warning for parents to watch out for the invasive plant. Pictured: Terrible blistering and burns mark the girl’s hands
Giant Hogweed can grow up to to 20ft tall, and they can be recognised by their thick green stem with patches of purple and white hairs
‘We have been informed that this plant is definitely growing in Longsight Park.
‘It would be helpful to show your children what this plant looks like so they can avoid coming into contact with it.’
Giant Hogweed, which has been described as Britain’s ‘most dangerous plant’, can cause serious health problems and major irritation to skin as its toxins seep deep into the cells.
The weed can grow up to 20ft tall, while each Giant Hogweed plant can spread out to cover a range of around two metres too, making it highly invasive.
Giant Hogweed is part of the Apiaceae family which also includes plants such as parsley, carrot, parsnip, cumin and coriander.
But unlike the household favourites, the weed can be harmful and continuously grows.
Formally known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, it was introduced to Britain in the 19th century from Eurasia and is similar in appearance to cow parsley but supersized.
Its sap is one of the most notable parts of the plant, with its thick green stem having patches of purple and white hairs on it.
With thick green leaves that can grow to five feet in width, Giant Hogweeds really live up to their name.
Experts are urging people to be aware of the plant’s sap, which contains toxic chemical compounds called furocoumarins.
It is easy for people to brush up against Giant Hogweed without realising, with the sap’s toxins making themselves known in major ways causing burns and scars.
In the short-term, people can suffer from blisters and rashes as well as painful inflamed areas.
However, the long-term consequences are more dramatic with people facing potential disfiguration or long-lasting purple blotches on their skin.
Those worst affected could even suffer with skin irritation for months or years after the plant made contact with them.
What is Giant Hogweed?
‘Britain’s most dangerous plant’: Found across the country the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) looks harmless enough but can deliver life-changing injuries
Giant Hogweed is a non-native species to the UK.
It was first introduced to the UK as an ornamental plant in the 19th century after being discovered in the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia.
The plant escaped and naturalised in the wild and can now be found throughout much of the UK – especially on river banks as its seeds are transported by the water.
It has been spreading uncontrollably across Scotland for decades, producing up to 50,000 seeds which can survive for many years.
But the sap of the weed, which looks like a giant version of the harmless plant cow parsley, is extremely toxic to humans and animals, causing horrific burns on the skin.
The skin remains sensitive to UV light for many years – and can even cause blindness if near the eyes.
Every year, thousands of people, including children and pets, suffer life-changing injuries from Giant Hogweed after accidentally coming into contact with it out in the wild.