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WARNING: Alarming reports of toxic hogweed in Maidstone

Friday 30th July 2021

ALARMING reports confirm the toxic plant, giant hogweed, is making a re-appearance across the county - and has already been spotted in Maidstone.

Large quantities of the invasive non-native plant were first reported growing alongside the M2 corridor from Medway to Canterbury.

The plant now appears to be spreading around Maidstone with recent discoveries close to the Croudace housing development along Hermitage Lane.

Contact with the plant, which can grow to 15ft, can cause skin to blister, forming painful lesions, with the effects continuing for many years.

Ward councillor Dan Daley (Lib Dem) warned: “The plant is highly toxic and dangerous if disturbed, touched, or if broken, allowing the sap to issue.

“Wherever it is discovered and recognised, it should be reported to Maidstone Borough Council as removal of it requires specialist treatment.”

Giant hogweed was introduced to Britain in the 19th century from ‘Eurasian’ countries such as Armenia and southern Russia, as a popular curiosity in ornamental gardens. It grows predominately near rivers and does especially well in disturbed soils.

Each plant produces about 50,000 seeds, and once established, can take up to five years to completely eradicate because of regrowth from seeds and roots.

It causes riverbank erosion and reduces habitat for native species.

The Medway Valley Countryside Partnership (MVCP) currently work to control giant hogweed, floating pennywort, Japanese knotweed and other invasive non-native species along the River Medway and its tributaries.

Andrea Griffiths, senior partnership officer for MVCP, said: “We have been controlling giant hogweed across the Medway catchment’s riverbanks for over 10 years. It’s a plant which is incredibly invasive and very damaging to the environment. It is toxic to humans causing severe blistering to the skin if exposed to sunlight.”

To report evidence of giant hogweed contact Maidstone Borough Council or email the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership at medwayvalley@kent.gov.uk

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