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Steps taken for thousands of toxic Giant Hogweed plants in West Norfolk



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Thousands of toxic giant hogweed has been cleared from an area in a bid to eradicate the plant all together.

The Environment Agency (EA) is two years into a project to rid the Denver complex of Giant Hogweed.

The invasive plant, which can grow to over eight feet, had largely taken over a piece of land adjacent to the tidal River Ouse.

Giant hogweed at the site at Denver before it was removed. Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY (47727770)
Giant hogweed at the site at Denver before it was removed. Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY (47727770)

This meant the land was unable to be used as the plant is toxic to humans.

Coming into contact with the sap or tiny hairs the plant produces can result in blisters, rashes and uncomfortable swellings.

In 2019 EA started their mission to clear the land and stop the non-native plant spreading to nearby arable land.

Denver site cleared of hogweed by the Environment Agency. (47727806)
Denver site cleared of hogweed by the Environment Agency. (47727806)

The site was cleared with a specialist remote controlled mower on a day in January when the plant stems were completely sap free.

Once finished the mower had to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure there were no seeds trapped within it, removing the risk of them being transported to other sites.

Giant hogweed seeds remain viable in the seed bank for up to five years so regular visits throughout 2019 to treat the newly germinated seeds with herbicide was necessary.

In 2020 a small number of giant hogweed seeds were still present at the site and required treatment.

Now, the site has been completely transformed from an infested piece of land into a modern training facility that’s rich in biodiversity.

Darren Noble, of EA said: “It is great to see what we have achieved on this site. The hogweed was well established and was starting to spread further, but we stopped that and have completely transformed the area.”

EA advises that if you come into contact with giant hogweed you should stay out of the light as much as possible, as this can aggravate the hives on the body. The plant can be especially dangerous to small children.

The plant has also been spotted at the Willows Nature Reserve in Downham.



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