MSP raises fears over giant hogweed in Fife

Giant Hogweed
Giant Hogweed

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife, has raised local concerns with the Scottish Government regarding the danger of giant hogweed growing in local rivers and burns.

Giant hogweed is a tall, cow parsley-like plant with thick bristly stems that are often purple-blotched.

It can reach a height of 3.5m (11.5ft) and has a spread of about 1m (3.5ft). It is highly invasive and has spread throughout the whole of Britain, primarily favouring river banks.

The sap of the plant contains toxic chemicals, which, when coming into contact with the skin, cause a condition called phyto-photodermatitis: a reddening of the skin, often followed by severe burns and blistering. The burns can last for several months and even once they have died down the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years.

Ms Smith, said: “Giant hogweed is a very dangerous plant and poses a real threat to public health especially children with a significant number of cases being reported.

“The harmful plant spreads at aggressive rates and its sap can cause painful burns on the skin and even lead to blindness.

“I have become increasingly concerned for local children who may come across the plant along local river walks, not knowing the serious health effects the plant poses.

“It is vital that action is taken to remove giant hogweed and I have written to Scottish Government and SEPA to ask for a joint approach to remove this dangerous invasive plant from our local rivers and burns.”