Salford City Council is warning residents and dog walkers to take extra care in Clifton Country park and along the River Irwell valley and to avoid even the slightest contact with the plant.
The plant, which is related to cow parsley, has chemicals in tiny hairs under its leaves and sap which can cause the skin to become extremely sensitive to sunlight. Even the slightest brush against a leaf can cause blistering and pain within 15 minutes and both humans and animals can be affected.
Sun sensitivity can last for months after contact with the plant and if sap gets into the eyes it can cause blindness.
NHS Direct advises anyone who has come into contact with the plant to immediately wash the area with cold water and soap and seek medical advice if they feel unwell.
Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said:
“Giant Hogweed, which looks like a larger version of cow parsley, was brought from Russia by Victorian plant collectors as an ornamental plant. It soon escaped from gardens and now grows everywhere across the whole of Britain.
“It thrives on river banks and with each plant producing thousands of seeds, it is nigh on impossible to fully eradicate though we do treat any which springs up close to public footpaths.
“We have had cases where children have scrambled through the plants and ended up badly burned so we’re asking everyone to be aware of Giant Hogweed and keep themselves, children and dogs well away from it.”
You can find more information about the plant at: www.salford.gov.uk/gianthogweed
Photo attached by Fritz Geller-Grimm [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons