A toxic weed that recently left two children needing hospital treatment is being removed from a city centre car park at the rear of The Queen’s School.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has confirmed giant hogweed will be destroyed at the Race Company-owned Linenhall car park after being contacted by The Chronicle.
Mike Duddy, of the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust, recently described hogweed as 'the most dangerous plant in Britain' after two boys were hurt when they touched the plant at a country park in Bolton.
Toxic sap from the weed, which more commonly grows near canals and rivers, can increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight, often leading to burns.
Chronicle reader Dave Evans was the first to alert the newsroom to the danger after parking up prior to a recent shopping trip.
'Very poisonous plant'
He said: “My mum saw a number of huge 7-8 foot plants on the rough ground and exclaimed horror. Essentially you have a very poisonous plant growing in the centre of Chester within the walls and on public land.”
Mr Evans hopes that alerting people, including those with pets, will reduce the risk of contact with this plant and help stop such events as those in Bolton.
He cautioned: “Just don’t touch it – severe burns and lasting photosensitivity. You can learn more about the giant hogweed through simple google searches. It’s been in the national press over the last few weeks. Myself and my family are from Chester and want to see it removed and awareness raised if possible.”
Mersey Basin Rivers Trust says the plant can be controlled with a herbicide, but due to a lack of a “multi-agency strategy” for dealing with it the problem was getting worse. After contact with the plant, the burns can last for several months and the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years.
The NHS says anyone who touches giant hogweed should wash the affected area with soap and water, and keep it covered. The blisters heal very slowly. If you feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed, speak to your doctor.
Maria Byrne, head of place operations at CWaC, said: “A regulatory services officer has established that there is hogweed in the left hand corner of Linenhall car park. He has spoken to the Race Company, owners of the car park, and the area is to be cordoned off and the plant removed by specialists.”
Chester Race Company confirmed the area was immediately sectioned off as advised and a specialist would be attending the site as a matter of urgency.
What is it - the hogweed factfile
- A large weed with white umbrella-shaped flower head now widespread along river banks and canal towpaths
- Can grow about 13ft (4m) high and has leaves up to 5ft (1.5m) wide
- Poisonous sap from stem hairs can cause severe blistering which can take months to heal
- Resembles cow parsley but has reddish-purple stem with fine spines and spotted leaf stalks
- Can produce up to 50,000 seeds per year