Toxic plants which can cause massive blisters and ulcers have been spotted in several locations in Essex.

Giant Hogweed can also cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes.

An interactive map has been published, allowing people to report sightings of the toxic plant.

Known as Britain's most dangerous plant, it has been spotted this year so far in Manningtree, Dedham, Fordham, Little Bardfield, Tilty, Great Easton, Great Warley and Landermere.

Where is the Giant Hogweed in Essex?

A large cluster of Giant Hogweed can be found around the Tilty/Great Easton area.

Thurrock Gazette: Giant Hogweed sightings around Tilty and Great Easton (Plant Tracker)Giant Hogweed sightings around Tilty and Great Easton (Plant Tracker)

They are located on the Brocks Mead road and in a field north of the Village Hall in Great Easton, off Dunmow road in between Great Easton and Tilty, two along Dutton Hill in Tilty and one nearby the River Chelmer off Cherry Street.

Additionally, there is one on Warley Gap near Great Warley, one on Chappel Road in Fordham, one near The Studio at Landermere Wharf, one off Little Sampford Road near Little Bardfield and one across from the River Stour in Dedham.

Finally, there is one in Manningtree quite close to a Co-op near the river.

Thurrock Gazette: The Giant Hogweed sighting in Manningtree (Plant Tracker)The Giant Hogweed sighting in Manningtree (Plant Tracker)

What is Giant Hogweed and is it dangerous?

Giant Hogweed, also known by its Latin name Heracleum Mantegazzianum, originated in Southern Russia and Georgia and was introduced to Britain and Europe in the 19th century, from the Caucasus Mountains.

The earliest documented reference to the plant has been traced back to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Seed List of 1817, where seeds of the plant were listed.

The plant itself can reach over 10ft in height and, according to The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS): “most gardeners will want to eradicate it, as it is potentially invasive and the sap can cause severe skin burns”.

What does Giant Hogweed look like?

The Woodland Trust outlines the appearance of Giant Hogweed so that you can better identify the dangerous plant.

  • Stems: the stems are green with purple blotches and stiff, white hairs. The stems are hollow with ridges and a thick circle of hair at the base of each leaf stalk
  • Leaves: the leaves are huge, and can measure up to 1.5m wide and 3m long, and are often divided into smaller leaflets. The Woodland Trust compares them to rhubarb leaves, with irregular and jagged edges, with the underside of the leaf being described as hairy
  • Flowers: the flowers of the Giant Hogweed appear in June and July, and are small and white and appear in clusters on “umbrella-like heads” that face upwards
  • Seeds: the seeds are dry, flattened and an oval shape, almost 1cm long and tan in colour with brown lines

How do I treat Giant Hogweed burns?

If you accidentally get Giant Hogweed sap on your skin, Healthline says that you should wash the area with mild soap and cool water as quickly as possible. You should keep the skin covered when you’re outside to protect it from the sunlight.

Also, if a rash or blister begins to form, you should seek medical attention. Your treatment will depend on how severe your reaction is.

Healthline also explains that the Giant Hogweed sap can damage more than just your skin - if the sap gets in your eyes, you can experience either temporary or permanent blindness. Similarly, breathing in sap particles can result in respiratory problems.