According to Guelph University student Meghan Grguric, giant hogweed is here to stay.
Grguric is currently doing research into ways of dealing with giant hogweed,
“There is no way we can eradicate it. All we can do is control it to the best of our abilities,” said Grguric, a University of Guelph master’s student. “Once an invasive species gets in, you can’t really eradicate it, unless you are tackling it very early at the source.”
The plants, originally from Asia, have a clear, watery sap that contains toxins. The sap can inflame and burn skin when exposed to sunlight. It can even cause blindness if it gets in the eyes of people or their pets.
Giant hogweed grows to a height of three to four metres when in flower. It looks like a larger version of Queen Anne’s lace, and often grows in open sites with lots of sunlight.
Despite wearing protective clothing, Grguric herself has suffered burns to her wrist and calf – something she laments but sees as fascinating from a scientific perspective. “The ability of these plants to hurt you is just so interesting,” says Grguric, whose research aims to investigate various methods for dealing with the scourge, including injecting herbicides directly into the plant and successive to reduce the spread of seeds. So far, Grguric has found the plant to be relatively impervious to traditional herbicides. “Basically, you spray it, you kill off what’s there, and new seedlings pop up a few months later.”
Residents who find giant hogweed on their property are responsible for its removal, according to the city. This should be done wearing protective clothing, including eyewear. Professional services such as pesticide application companies can also assist.
(PHOTO Vicious: Dean Simmons brushed against some giant hogweed and received agonising skin burns Mirror.UK)