Local authorities have been urged to control and manage the spread of Giant Hogweed, which can cause severe blistering to the skin of people who come into contact with it.
The Property Care Association (PCA) has warned the invasive weed can pose a threat to public health as the plant’s sap is highly toxic to the skin in sunlight.
As well as causing a nasty rash and blisters, the weed can also create long-term health problems that recurr in subsequent summers.
Professor Max Wade, chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: ‘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. 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.’
The plant can grow up to three metres high and has a large, white, umbrella shaped flowering head. It has sharply serrated or divided leaves, with bristles on the underside.