Manchester

Giant hogweed warning after children hurt in Bolton

Reid Daly in hospital Image copyright BBC (Family handout)
Image caption Reid Daley suffered burns after coming into repeated contact with giant hogweed in Bolton

Parents have been urged to watch out for harmful weeds after two boys were hospitalised in Bolton.

Reid Daley, 13, and a friend touched giant hogweed at Moses Gate Country Park, Farnworth on Saturday while playing.

Toxic sap from the weed, which grows near canals and rivers, can increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight, often leading to burns.

Bolton Council said the weed had since been removed from the park.

Reid and three friends found a patch of the plants and started to play amongst them. He woke up the following day with rashes to his skin and was taken to hospital.

He said: "They started to blister up as I was in the sunlight.

"I was in agony, every time I moved or touched something with it it was like someone was poking me with a needle. It just wouldn't stop."

Image caption Giant hogweed is a common weed which grows by many canals and rivers

After contact, the burns can last for several months and the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years.

The plant, which resembles cow parsley, can grow about 16ft (5m) high and has leaves up to 5ft (1.5m) wide.

It can be identified by its reddish-purple stem with fine spines, and its spotted leaf stalks.

Mathew Cocklin, Reid's stepfather, said: "I couldn't believe we didn't know about it; most people don't know about it.

"It's just a weed. You are not expecting it to cause severe damage."

The weed originated in the Caucasus mountains and was introduced into Britain by Victorian plant collectors.

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