The old song title used to be ‘Return of the Giant Hogweed’ so I’ve changed it slightly…but the song was going through my head this morning when stuck in traffic on the M60.
Looking across the stationary traffic where the M60 meets the M62 the road widens slightly to take account of the bridge support.
At this juncture there is a small piece of rough ground surrounded by eight lanes of traffic – and on this god forsaken piece of land there is a single giant hogweed plant. The Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed) stands some 3 metres in height and is already starting to produce its seed head. The plant looks healthy and robust and at some stage later in the year will produce thousands of seeds which will disperse to potentially produce hundreds of new plants.
The point of this little article is to highlight how nature has a way of winning out!
How the hell did a seed from Giant Hogweed end up on this stretch of motorway? …and how many thousands of seeds have floated across the motorway only to be destroyed or crushed by flying vehicles. Yet despite this huge loss of viable seed one lone plant has survived to reproduce thousands more seeds to help keep the species alive…
So what you have to imagine is that this is what we are up against when we are trying to manage and control these ‘invasive’ species. They will survive in even the most inhospitable conditions. They will produce viable seed capable of travelling miles over land and across water to produce new colonies of problem plants…
Your main weapon against these plants is your eyes.
Learn to know what these plants look like at all stages of growth. Learn not to encourage their spread by managing and controlling their growth*. Learn when they flower and when they seed. Learn that removing seed heads before they produce viable seed is worthwhile. Removing seed heads after the seeds have been produced is not only a waste of time but may actually encourage their spread.
Learn that you are up against a tough and dedicated enemy that requires respect and a managed approach to eradication…
*Giant Hogweed has a poisonous sap that can cause burns and scarring to skin if exposed to sunlight. Use appropriate personal protective equipment when dealing with Giant Hogweed. If unsure, please consult an experienced professional for advice or treatment.