National trade body, the Property Care Association (PCA), is urging caution as the invasive weed Giant Hogweed takes hold this summer.
The plant’s sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.
Experts from the PCA say that those who come into contact with the any part of the plant then is exposed to sunlight risks severe blistering to the skin and discomfort. This can result in a long term condition which returns every summer.
Professor Max Wade, chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: “Giant Hogweed is turning out to be a problem again this summer. It is continuing to spread and, in one area alone, I’ve seen it appear in five new locations.
“It is really important that the plant is spotted and that its toxic sap does not come into contact with skin in the sunlight. If this occurs, it can lead to a nasty rash, itching and blisters when skin first makes contact with it.”
He added: “The rash and the itching can reoccur and flare up for years afterwards when skin is exposed to sunlight.
“An added concern is the fact that Giant Hogweed sap which comes into contact with items such as clothing and equipment can also be transferred via touch, so it can possibly affect somebody else.”
Wade advised that if contact is made with the weed, the covered area should be kept away from sunlight and washed with water as soon as possible.
The PCA has produced a leaflet offering guidance on how to manage Giant Hogweed. It has also compiled a list of specialist contractors and consultants in the Weed Control Group that have expertise to control the plant on the PCA website.