Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monster Plants

In this instance the hogweed - Cow Parsnip Heracleum sphondylium.  The Daily Mail has horrible photos of what this plant has done to a poor girl in Scotland, who touched it and who's hands became covered in blisters.  Well I'm not here to defend the plant, but please leave it in the countryside, it has been here a helluva long time, and definitely does not have a 'Triffid' habit of movement!




Think the above photos are it but not sure, there are many 'cow parsleys' the stem is supposed to be very square, but I notice the above does not have the tell tale darker marking.  Grigson does not even mention it's poisonous role, and says that it was fed to pigs hence the name.  In fact the villagers were still bringing home bundles of the plant to feed their pigs in his time. 
The equivalent in the garden is blue rue, which used to have the same affect on me, the milky sap when you cut the plant touched the skin, and then later on the sun would bring up blisters.  It was a pretty plant, but my daughter ordered it to be cut down because of young Tom.

Consulting Marjorie Blamey and she says of the Giant Hogweed - Heracleum Mantegazzianum that the juice of this plant is photo-sensitive in sunlight and can cause serious blisters.  Of course this is a Victorian introduction to the garden, and has since 'escaped into the wild', a bit like the Japanese Knotweed. So this is the one the little girl presumably touched.


4 comments:

  1. Ragwort, as well as being poisonous to animals - a friend's two donkeys both died of ragwort poisoning - is also poisonous to humans, so if you need to pull or dig it out, make sure you wear gloves as it enters the skin and damages the kidneys.

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    1. Ragwort is somewhat difficult to distinguish from all the yellow flowers one see in summer, sad about the two donkeys though.

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  2. All I can say is, if you want to know exactly what it looks like go to Scarborough, where it grows behind the Funicular railway, the one on south cliff. Many of the Umbellifers will affect your skin if you get their juice on it and walk outside in sunlight. I always wash well after touching them.

    Pat - Ragwort is a dreadful plant, and is even more toxic in hay, plus it is cumulative.

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    1. Do you know Jennie we have never been to Scarborough for a nose around, and didn't even know it had a funicular, something learnt every day.

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