A TOXIC plant which can cause burns, blisters and ulcers if touched has been reported in Hampshire.

Giant hogweed has been reported in a number of areas across the county and although it can look rather attractive, it is highly poisonous if eaten and can cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes.

The dangerous plant can reach over 3m (10ft) in height and is now in season prompting fresh calls for the public to be vigilant.

As explained by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), chemicals in the sap can cause photodermatitis or photosensitivity, where the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight and may suffer blistering, pigmentation and long-lasting scars that can recur over months or even years.

Where is giant hogweed in Hampshire?

Officially known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed can usually be found in woodland, river banks, parks, nature reserves, gardens and allotments.

An interactive map has been published, allowing people to report sightings of the toxic plant.

This year so far it has been spotted in West Meon, Lymington, Fordingbridge and Ringwood.

Although a map has been released, it is likely the plant could also pop up in other areas, especially as the warmer weather continues - the perfect conditions.

How do I spot giant hogweed?

Giant hogweed looks like an enormous cow parsley.

The Woodland Trust outlines the appearance of Giant Hogweed so that you can better identify the dangerous plant.

  • Stems: the stems are green with purple blotches and stiff, white hairs. The stems are hollow with ridges and a thick circle of hair at the base of each leaf stalk
  • Leaves: the leaves are huge, and can measure up to 1.5m wide and 3m long, and are often divided into smaller leaflets. The Woodland Trust compares them to rhubarb leaves, with irregular and jagged edges, with the underside of the leaf being described as hairy
  • Flowers: the flowers of the Giant Hogweed appear in June and July, and are small and white and appear in clusters on “umbrella-like heads” that face upwards
  • Seeds: the seeds are dry, flattened and an oval shape, almost 1cm long and tan in colour with brown lines

What if I accidentally touch giant hogweed?

If you do accidentally touch this plant, you should wash the area as soon as possible and get out of sunlight.

You should also contact a medical professional such as your GP or 111.