A not so lovely blooming Monday.
This astonishing plant stole my weekend. I discovered it in my garden and have spent most of the last two days getting rid of it. You might wonder why I would want to destroy it. This plant is sculptural in its beauty, almost architectural in its form, and surely a stunning addition to any garden.
Yes, it has a certain beauty about it and the prolific flowers offer pollen to all kinds of insects. Yet, I was compelled to do everything I could to try to take it out of the garden. The reason is, this is Heracleum Mantegazzianum, commonly known as Giant Hogweed.
The plant is highly toxic to humans and contact with it can cause horrific blistering and burns. In some cases the skin damage can be so bad people require hospital treatment. The results of burns from this plant can be long lasting photosensitivity to sunlight which can go on for years. If any sap gets in the eyes it can cause temporary blindness, if the damage is bad, possibly permanent blindness. It is illegal to deliberately grow this in the UK. However, this plant does grow in the wild. It is usually eradicated when discovered because it is so dangerous to people who don’t recognise it.
I believe that the plant in my garden self set there. I certainly didn’t plant it. When I realised what it was, the plant stood at about three foot tall. Giant Hogweed can grow up to about fourteen foot. I believe all the growth has taken place this spring. To deal with this toxic plant I had to use my longest cutters so I could take it down section by section. I also had to wear gloves and I used an old welding mask I have in the garage to make sure the sap didn’t get in my eyes. I had to work quite slowly on this job because of how dangerous this plant can be. Most of it is down now but I have to deal with the root and make sure it hasn’t reproduced and set any young plants in the garden.
I hope the next lot of gardening I do will be more fun, less time consuming, and a whole lot safer than this weekend’s work. Do enjoy your garden if you have one, and I hope you don’t ever have to deal with something quite as difficult as Giant Hogweed.