Elena Black writes:
Please beware of the plant Giant Hogweed – it can cause very nasty blisters, like the dome-like one on my leg in the picture. There’s a 2p coin next to it for comparison . I’m not sure where it was, as I do a lot of walking for exercise. Fortunately it does not hurt but looks very nasty. Wikipedia describes it like this:
“The sap of the giant hogweed plant is phototoxic; when the contacted skin is exposed to sunlight or to ultraviolet rays, it can cause phytophotodermatitis (severe skin inflammations). Initially, the skin colours red and starts itching. Blisters form as it burns within 48 hours. They form black or purplish scars that can last several years. Hospitalisation may be necessary. The presence of minute amounts of sap in the eyes can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness.[better source needed]
These reactions are caused by the presence of linear derivatives of furanocoumarin in its leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds. These chemicals can get into the nucleus of the epithelial cells, forming a bond with the DNA, causing the cells to die. The brown colour is caused by the production of melanin by furocoumarins.
Authorities advise that children should be kept away from giant hogweed, that protective clothing, including eye protection, should be worn when handling or digging it, and that if skin is exposed, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and the exposed skin protected from the sun for several days.”