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WATCH : Chris Daphne from Ness District Salmon Fishery Board tackles giant hogweed spotted in Avoch on the Black Isle and talks about the dangers of the plants and NatureScot’s Scottish Invasive Species Initiative


By Federica Stefani

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A TOXIC invasive plant was spotted on a Black Isle beauty spot, residents are being warned.

Professional dog walker, Angela Woodrow, was out on a walk when she identified a specimen of Giant Hogweed on the Avoch Industrial estate and posted a notice on a local Facebook group.

The plant, which grew along the beach, has been since reported and treated, which should see the plant die off in the coming weeks.

Angela Woodrow, professional dog walker with a large hogweed plant looming behind her. Picture: James Mackenzie
Angela Woodrow, professional dog walker with a large hogweed plant looming behind her. Picture: James Mackenzie

An invasive species, giant hogweed is a toxic plant that can cause severe skin blisters and painful burns. The sap contains a toxic chemical, which sensitises the skin to sunlight and causes severe blisters.

NatureScot leads the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI), a five-year partnership project which aims to work with local organisations and volunteers to control invasive non-native species along riversides in Northern Scotland.

Invasive species policy manager, Stan Whitaker, said: “It’s really important for people to be able to recognise giant hogweed so they can avoid potentially serious injury.

Chris Daphne tackling the giant hogweed plant in Avoch.
Chris Daphne tackling the giant hogweed plant in Avoch.

“Thankfully the plant is relatively easy to identify when fully grown due to its enormous size of between two and four metres, with large white clusters of flowers up to 80 centimetres wide.

“Its leaves are very large and sharply divided and can be over one metre across while the stems are green with purple blotches and covered with bristly hairs.

“As well as being a health risk to people and animals, giant hogweed is also a risk to our environment because it forms dense patches which crowd out our native plants.

“It can be tricky to eradicate, because each plant produces over 20,000 seeds, which can live in the soil for up to five years, so landowners need to take a long-term approach to removing it every year, before it flowers.”

Some control of invasive plant species has been carried out by the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board on the Avoch Burn and Avoch Beach as part of the initiative and records in the area can be reported here: https://www.invasivespecies.scot/report-invasive-plant-sighting.

Chris Daphne, River Ness Fisheries Officer with the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, has been treating giant hogweed and other invasive plants for several years.

After just over a week from treatment, the plant is dying off.

The plant after just over a week from being treated.
The plant after just over a week from being treated.

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