For a plant that usually lurks beside rivers and canals, the Giant Hogweed has been doing rather well lately at making itself famous. The news in the UK has been carrying several lurid stories about the burns suffered by children after coming into contact with it. So it seems a good time to present a photo essay of my past images of what one tabloid called the ‘Horror Weed from Hell’.
The Giant Hogweed was introduced into the UK from Central Asia in the late 19th century as a curiosity. It soon spread its seed beyond the gardens of Victorian horticulturalists, and is now to be found across the whole country, often by water. Touching the plant, which has a highly toxic sap, can leave the skin sensitive to sunlight, result in painful blistering. Because of this, it is regarded as a serious health hazard and some people would like to see it wiped out.
But…the Giant Hogweed is only present in Britain because humans introduced it here. It’s just doing what any plant species does – trying to spread its seeds as far as it can. Rather than fearing it, maybe we could learn how to be careful around it. It may be an invader but we brought it here. Perhaps we should learn to live with a guest we invited?
The Pod Opens
An Alien in the City
The Hogweeds Gather
Seeding the Air
The Day of the Giant Hogweed