Parents across Greater Manchester are being urged to warn their children about a highly toxic plant that can cause severe blistering burns.
Most prevalent at this time of year, Giant Hogweed – also known by its Latin name Heracleum Mantegazzianum – is a plant that originated in Southern Russia and Georgia, and was introduced to Britain and Europe in the 19th century.
The plant itself can reach over 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 sap contains a chemical called furocoumarin which makes the skin sensitive to the sun, and can cause bad blistering – which can recur over the span of months, and even years.
How can I spot Giant Hogweed?
If you’re looking to identify this dangerous plant to better inform yourself and your children, then The Woodland Trust outlines the appearance of Giant Hogweed by these characteristics:
Stems: The stems are green with purple blotches and stiff, white hairs and are hollow with ridges and a thick circle of hair at the base of each leaf stalk.
Leaves: The large leaves 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: Giant Hogweed flowers 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.
Regular hogweed leaves are more rounded, whereas Giant Hogweed leaves are more jagged.
It’s important not to confuse Giant Hogweed with cow parsley too, as although they look similar, cow parsley can only grow about three-four feet, and also has smaller florets and broader leaves that are much more rounded than the jagged leaves of Giant Hogweed.
Sightings of Giant Hogweed have been spotted in Greater Manchester in recent weeks.
Community group Bolton NEWT say it’s recently found Giant Hogweed plants in Leverhulme Park, along the rivers Tonge and Croal, and at Moses Gate Country Park.
“We strongly suggest taking a few minutes with your kids to show them these pictures, so that they can safely identify giant hogweed and not panic when you find native hogweed or cow parsley.” a spokesperson for Bolton NEWT.
Similarly, Mini First Aid in High Peak and Tameside has also taken to social media to issue a warning about the plant, saying: “Now is the season for ‘Britain’s most dangerous plant’ and with the lovely weather forecast in a couple of weeks time, this stuff will thrive and spread.”
The group added: “All parents, please warn your children not to touch the plant as the leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds all contain this terrible poisonous toxin.
“Any parts of the body that come into contact with the sap of a giant hogweed should be immediately washed with soap and cold water and seek medical advice. Further exposure to sunlight should be avoided for at least 48 hours.”
You can find more information about Giant Hogweed here.
Featured Image – Flickr
Popular London bakery Gail’s to open string of North West cafes next year
Popular craft bakery Gail’s has hinted at plans to open a string of new cafes in the North West next year.
The group, which already has a large number of bakery-cafes in the south of England, has announced it will open its first North West site in Wilmslow in early 2023.
Bosses have also said that ‘further locations in the North West’ will be announced in the new year, adding that all the new bakeries will serve GAIL’s artisan sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes alongside its specialty House Blend coffee.
The news also seems to potentially confirm speculation that the brand is planning a move into Manchester after The Manc shared news of potential plans for a Gail”s opening in the city centre in October.
Having already seen planning documents that suggest the chain is planning to take over the former White Stuff unit on King Street, it now appears that more news on that opening will be coming in 2023 – although it’s hard to say if it will be the first Manchester site to be announced.
The bakery group already has strong ties with Manchester, having run its sister wholesale bakery The Bread Factory in Openshaw since 2017.
Formed in the early 1990s by namesake Gail Mejia, Gail’s began when its eponymous founder decided to bring together the best bakers in London to create bakes for the capitals top chefs and restaurants.
Today, is known more as a customer-facing cafe and bakery whilst The Bread Factory continues the original wholesale legacy – supplying high quality, artisan breads to some of the region’s top local restaurants.
Gail’s first cafe opened on Hampstead High Street in 2005, and now the brand has 79 in neighbourhoods in and around London, Oxford, Brighton and more.
Turning back the clock on industrialised baking practices and moving to bake bread as it used to be baked: by hand, using quality ingredients and time-worn artisanal methods, Gail’s soon established a name for itself and has come a long way since those early days.
Still, the stuff that matters – the ethos, the suppliers, the skill and a handful of tried-and-tested sourdough starter cultures – hasn’t changed.
A champion for sustainability, the bakery also prides itself on minimising food waste by carefully setting aside any leftover food and donating it to a selection of local charities in each eatery’s neighbourhood
On Twitter, someone said: “I wouldn’t mind knowing where he is either he’s [flame emoji].”
In all serious though, Humberside Police said of Robert Rimmer: “If you see him, or know where he is, please do not approach him but instead call us immediately on our non-emergency 101 line quoting investigation reference 20900368291.
“If you would prefer to report information anonymously you can do so via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”