Public warned of Giant Hogweed dangers

Stirling residents are being reminded of the dangers of Giant Hogweed and its potentially harmful impact on health at the start of Invasive Species Week (15-21 May).

A field sloping upwards with, in the foreground, a patch of dark green, Giant Hogweed.
The public are being advised to show caution around Giant Hogweed as we head into its growing season.

The invasive and toxic plant is found throughout the UK, mainly by lowland riverbanks, in rough pastures and on wasteland.

Giant Hogweed can grow up to 5m tall and contact must be avoided as the sap is phototoxic, causing serious skin burns under sunlight that can reoccur for many years.

As we head into its growing season, Stirling Council’s Land Services Team has a programme of work to assess and treat hogweed growth on Council land.


If Giant Hogweed is found on private land, however, it is the responsibility of the landowner to take steps to eradicate the plant.

To help raise awareness of the risks of Giant Hogweed, Stirling Council schools and nurseries are also sharing information about the dangerous plant with pupils and families ahead of the summer holidays.

Jen Preston, Convener of the Environment, Transport and Net Zero Committee, said: “We strongly advise the public to show caution around Giant Hogweed as we move into the growing season and the summer months.

“Our staff have been treating the plant in various locations across Stirling this year and we will continue to do all we can to control it on Council land.

“Giant Hogweed is highly invasive and spreads easily. It poses a serious risk to humans and animals and people should not touch any part of the plant, while pets should also be kept away from it.”


Giant Hogweed has long, green stems which branch out into clusters of small white flowers. Typically these are 2-3m in height bearing flower heads up to 80cm across and the lower leaves are often 1m more in size and distinctively spikey.

The weed can be confused with the common hogweed, cow parsley, elderflower or bishop’s lace. It’s set apart by its purple-hued stem, thin spines and leaf stalks covered in spots.

Where it grows, Giant Hogweed out-competes native flowers and reduces species diversity. Due to its hazards it also prevents access.


Giant Hogweed was introduced into the UK in the 19thcentury from the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia as an ornamental plant. Highly-invasive, it spreads by distributing seeds and is common throughout much of the UK. In addition to damaging health, its spread threatens native biodiversity and can harm the environment.

To report a sighting on Council land, please contact 01786 404040 or fill out our online form. Members of the public can also report an invasive plant sighting on private land via the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative or by contacting the landowner.

Landowners can seek further advice on Giant Hogweed and other invasive species via the NatureScot website.