Just look at the size of that! Spotted today while driving back from a stint of volunteering, I was completely gobsmacked at the size of this Giant Hogweed. (Over 5 feet in height and with a flower umbrella of about 2 feet wide).
It’s “proper” name is Heracleum mantegazzianum and it is also known as Wild Parsnip, Giant Cow Parsley, Wild Rhubarb and Cartwheel Flower. Not only is it impressive in size, it’s also POISONOUS! The sap of Giant Hogweed causes phytophotodermatitis in humans which manifests itself in blisters, long-lasting scars, and—if it comes in contact with eyes—blindness. These serious reactions are due to the furocoumarin derivatives in the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of the plant.
Originally introduced into Britain during the 19th century as an ornamental plant (those Victorian plant-hunters have so much to answer for!) it is now found all over the UK and particularly on river banks where it…
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