GALLERY-Plants, Giant Hogweed Photo Gallery
Information and photos - This plant stock photo gallery features stock photos of Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) also known as the "cartwheel flower", " common hemlock" and "giant cow parsnip". A non-native plant species that has been introduced to the UK. The stock photos show the full plant, the flower, leaf, stem and stalk detail. The information and photos could be useful for field based health and safety risk assesments.
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Giant Hogweed is an biennial monocarpic perennial that has been introduced and naturalised (naturalized) in the UK. It is an invasive species of plant commonly found in waste land, rough grassland, along railway lines that pass close to waterways, along riverbanks, in river courses and numerous other areas. It is originally a native of Caucasus mountains in SouthWest Asia and it is classed as a lowland plant. Giant Hogweed is resistant to frost, it is green in colour with white flower heads. The plant grows vigorously during the spring months, it is the largest herbaceous plant currently found in Europe. This non-native plant species is common accross the United Kingdom including Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales Ireland and Eire. This introduced species is harmful to the ecosystem damaging the ecology of sensitive, protected environmental areas taking over precious ecosystem habitat by forming dense stands. It can displace native plants and reduce the occurence of wildlife in the infested habitat. Classesd as an aggressive weed, a nuisance weed, superweed by environmental land managers, county councils, country estate managers, factors and land owners.
Giant Hogweed is also an environmental hazard to humans and it has become a cause for concern for those managing health and safety (h&s) in corporate business organisations and occupational health departments. Environmental workers such as those working in horticulture, forestry, agriculture, and aquaculture may come across this plant on a daily basis while working outdoors in the environment. Anyone working outdoors near this plant may need to carry out a risk assessment and those involved with occupational health have seen the damage it can cause to employees working in its vicinity.
Doctors, Nurses and occupational health workers will know that Giant Hogweed is a phototoxic plant. When its main stem, spotted leaf stalks, reddish purple stems (that have fine hair like bristles that look like spines on them) or leaves are fractured or broken it produces a white sap substance that reacts with the human skin. This is usually splashed on to the skin at time of the fracture but can be released simply by handling the plant or brushing against it. Children have been known to use the stalks as peashooters, this transfers the sap substance onto their lips. When sap covered skin is subsequently exposed to sunlight or to the suns UV-rays (ultraviolet light) it can inflict severe burns, swelling and painful blistering. Initially the skin colours red and starts to itch. Blisters form as seen in burns. The blisters then transform to form black/purple scars, that can last for several years. The presence of small amounts of sap in the eyes, can lead to temporary or permanent blindness. Consequently it is not uncommon for those affected by this hazardous to be hospitalised.
According to the Wildlife and Countryside Act Spreading Giant Hogweed is illegal. The act states that it is an offence under section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" any plant listed in Schedule 9, Part II of the act.
Ref: Defra, Scottish Executive Environment, Wildflower society
Giant Hogweed is quite distinctive growing up to 5 metres when established. The plant can be identified by its stout, corrigated, dark reddish-purple stem and the spotted leaf stalks that are hollow with sturdy bristles. Stems can measure up to 12 cm in diameter. The stem is mainly green in colour with a purplish-red pigmentation which can be stronger forming large blotches of colour in some parts of the stem. The colouring is apparent around the raised nodules that look like blisters the nodules produce bristles that look like fine spines. Closer examination with a magnifying glass or via macro closeup photos featured in this photo gallery may make you think that this blistering could actually be painful for the plant. It looks that bad! Tthere are large, coarse white bristle like hairs at the base of the leaf stalk.
Giant Hogweed has tuberous rootstalks, iIt flowers from late spring to late summer, with numerous white flowers clustered in an umbrella-shaped head that can spread up to 90 cm (3 ft) in diameter. The plant looks like Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) also known as Wild Chervil and this can lead to humans making the mistake of thinking the plant is harmless.
Species: H. mantegazzianum
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Some stock photos of Giant Hogweed can be found below...