A WARNING has been issued about coming into contact with an invasive plant which poses a greater danger during the summer months.

Over the years, a number of children, as well as adults, have reported injuries after being exposed to giant hogweed in the local area.

Those who come into contact with any part of the plant and are then exposed to sunlight can suffer severe blistering to the skin.

Now, with the summer holidays in full swing, experts at the Property Care Association (PCA) are urging vigilance to help protect against injury.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the trade body’s invasive weed control group, said: “Giant hogweed sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.

“Youngsters are more likely to come into contact with the plant during the summertime and the mix of warm weather and rain has provided good conditions for the weed to take hold this year.

“Giant hogweed is also spreading across a wider area, meaning that people are more likely to encounter it.

“If anyone comes into contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, they can sustain severe blistering to the skin and discomfort – and this reaction can recur for many years.”

Giant hogweed can produce between 30,000 and 50,000 seeds, which are then able to survive in the soil for a number of years.

The invasive weed is capable of growing to a height of up to five metres.

Dr Fitzsimons added: “The general public, as well as local authorities, statutory agencies and landowners on whose property people can come into contact with the plant, should be aware of the risks and giant hogweed needs to be controlled and managed professionally.”

A leaflet produced by the PCA to offer more advice on the danger posed by giant hogweed can be downloaded at Property Care.