Posted: 29.06.20 at 15:30 by Jack Lenton
Those enjoying the Biddulph Valley Way have been warned to look out for a dangerous plant that can cause blisters, burns and even blindness after it was apparently spotted near the popular walking path.
A sign has been placed to alert walkers of a potential stem of giant hogweed growing near a picnic bench on the Whitemore side of Biddulph Valley Way.
The makeshift sign reads: "Keep away - serious harm to skin from this plant."
Giant hogweed is an invasive plant, meaning it is not native to the country, and can grow as high as four or five metres tall, dominating its surrounding area and producing many thousands of seeds per plant.
The plant can be dangerous to humans, causing blistering and irritation if it comes into contact with the skin, particularly if the stem is broken due to its toxic sap.
Many instances of giant hogweed have been recorded in the UK recently due to the hot and sunny weather, and anyone out enjoying the countryside has been asked to steer clear of the plant should they spot it.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website says of giant hogweed: "Although an impressive sight when fully grown, giant hogweed is invasive and potentially harmful.
"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."
Anyone who is unlucky enough to accidentally make contact with giant hogweed should wash the affected area of skin immediately, avoid exposing it to sunlight for a few days, and seek medical advice.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to plant or cause giant hogweed to grow in the wild.
Local authorities also have a legal duty to remove unwanted plants (including giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed) if they receive reports that they are "causing a nuisance to highway users or adjoining landowners", under the Noxious Weeds Act 1959.