A STARK warning has been issued over a toxic giant hogweed plant, which causes severe burns.

Anyone spending more time gardening or going for long walks as lockdown eases, could stumble across the plant that is much more dangerous than people might first realise.

Parents are now being told to show children a picture of the dangerous plant, which can be found across Oxfordshire.

While the giant hogweed may look harmless, it harbours toxin-bearing saps that can cause horrendous blistering burns, even from gentle contact.

The burns can last for several months and the skin remains sensitive to UV light for many years. If near the eyes it can even cause blindness.

Where is it in the county?

Oxford Mail:

A map, which tracks where the plant grows in Britain, lists Abingdon, Wallingford and Blackbird Leys as its homes.

Similar to cow parsley, with its long stems bearing large umbrellas of white flowers, it can grow up to five metres in height, and the heads two metres wide.

It is noticeable for its coarse haired stems and purple blotchy leaves.

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The plant itself can reach more than 10ft in height and, according to The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), ‘most gardeners will want to eradicate it, as it is potentially invasive and the sap can cause severe skin burns’.

The plant is found throughout the UK, and more specifically, by river banks where the seeds are transported via the water.

The RHS also advises that areas affected by giant hogweed include ‘gardens and allotments adjacent to infected woodland, heathland or common land’.

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