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Warning when strimming

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by hailbopp, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. hailbopp

    hailbopp Gardener

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    Not sure if this is the right place to put this so admin feel free to shift it.
    I am not one for much of the health and safety measures nowadays and poo poo an awful lot of exaggerated warnings about plants being poisonous ( yes maybe if you eat 5 lbs of it:rolleyespink: ). That said I would like to warn others that it is not only Giant Hogweed that can give you nasty burns. It’s smaller cousin the ordinary hogweed can as well. It is very very common unlike it’s enormous cousin.
    D7998804-51B3-4846-831E-1F6D0F5E73B8.jpeg
    This photo is off the net as I have not ever had the inclination to photograph weeds!
    My daughter was strimming a rough piece of ground ( not our ground) the other day with a short sleeved top on. The next day she had quite nasty burns all over her arms. She phoned me to ask if I knew what plant might have been responsible for the burns. I went to have a look at the area and spotted lots of Hogweed which made it easy to identify the culprit. A week on and the burns are getting better. Maybe you should always strim in a long sleeved shirt, it just so happened to be really hot that day. Luckily daughter had on long trousers and wore a visor otherwise she could easily have burnt her face or worse her eyes:yikes:. She will not repeat the mistake.
     
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    • JWK

      JWK Gardener Staff Member

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      That is nasty, glad your daughter is getting better. A friend did a similar thing on a working party to help clear a canal path, he had to have bandages on his arms.
       
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      • Nikolaos

        Nikolaos Total Gardener

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        Sorry to hear about what happened to your daughter @hailbopp, hope she completely heals soon! :) I wasn't aware that any plant except Giant Hogweed could cause this skin reaction, but after looking at the RHS page there are another four 'giant hogweeds' that can cause this, as well as the common Hogweed you mentioned, it's just that burns caused by the more common hogweed are typically less severe.

        "The giant hogweeds are usually referred to by one name, Heracleum mantegazzianum. Research by RHS and other botanists shows that, while this is one of the species, there are as many as four other giant hogweeds at large in Britain some of which are biennial and others perennial. However, when tested all these had high levels of furanocoumarins (the chemicals which cause burning by making the skin sensitive to sunlight) and so all pose a risk to public health.

        There is also a native hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, which will be a familiar plant to gardeners and those who like to go walking in the UK. It can grow to six foot or so when in flower but is nevertheless a much smaller plant than giant hogweed. It can cause rashes and other skin complaints but reactions tend not be as severe as with the larger species. Heracleum sphondylium can support lots of pollinators, including beetles, flies, hoverflies, bees and wasps."

        Giant hogweed

        Nick
         
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        • JWK

          JWK Gardener Staff Member

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          Euphorbias will burn you in the same way, these include the ornamental garden types and the weedy types (spurges). Bruise the leaves or cut the stems and a milky sap oozes out. I pulled some up from my allotment a few years back not realising. The burning comes later when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This is one of the reasons I garden in a long sleeved shirt and wear safety specs.

          I think @pete had a similar experience recently.
           
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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            I did. Last summer I was cutting back a large Euphorbia wearing my usual PPE;), and I must have got some sap on the bend of my arm, so when I bent my arm it transferred to the top of arm as well.

            I didn't notice anything until the evening, when it started to burn.

            Next day it was weeping watery stuff, and that went on for about two or three weeks with the skin slowly healing back from the outside edges of the burn.

            It still itches and felt slightly sore when I got the sun on that area even earlier this year.
             
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            • strongylodon

              strongylodon Old Member

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              Also avoid getting Poinsettia sap on you skin as it too is a Euphorbia and can irritate if not burn.
               
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              • shiney

                shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                Sorry to hear that @hailbopp and I hope she recovers quickly.

                I always wear long sleeves and gloves (and trousers :heehee:) when doing any gardening. The only time I take my gloves off is when I'm tying up plants and picking beans. Apart from the normal protection against hogweed and Euphorbias (we have a lot of them) I've found my skin is allergic to conifers, tomato leaves and stems, and courgette leaves. :rolleyespink:
                 
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                • JWK

                  JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                  I had to get rid of my Tetrapanax rex it gave me hay fever type symptoms if I went near it. It sheds a powdery dust that gets up my nose and made my eyes stream.
                   
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                  • pete

                    pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                    Is that the stuff that rubs off the stems?

                    A plant that I have found to be very nasty regarding shedding hairs on stems is Fremontodendron
                    you dont see it much, maybe that is why.
                     
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                    • JWK

                      JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                      yes, and the leaves, it was after a few years of growing to the size where I could walk underneath that it started to affect me.
                       
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                      • shiney

                        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                        They're really showy trees but fairly short lived. They also shed the hairs from the back of the flowers and the seed pods :hate-shocked:

                        We used to warn people that had dogs never to grow them - when they saw ours they always said they would like one. Dogs tend to get them stuck to their noses and sometimes to their eyelids. Cats seemed to instinctively know not to go near them.

                        P1120793.JPG
                         
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                        • Sheal

                          Sheal Total Gardener

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                          I had burns from Giant Hogweed many years ago, and being burns I reacted by running cold water on them - the worst thing I could have done, as the burns blistered. If any treatment is used then a recommended ointment is best.
                           
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