CHILDREN are playing in parks and by river banks where dangerous plants causing life-changing injuries have been spotted, unknown to their parents.

Sightings of giant hogweed, which causes severe burns, leaving exposed skin extremely sensitive to sunlight, have been reported across the borough of Bury.

The invasive plant has been seen around Kirklees Brook, near Tottington, Springwater Park in Whitefield, Drinkwater Park in Prestwich and around Radcliffe in Sion Street, Outwood Trail, the old East Lancs mill and Close Park.

There have also been sightings reported in Burrs Country Park, near Elton Reservoir and along sections of the River Irwell and the Bury and Bolton Canal.

Bury Council has started spraying some of these plants but concerned residents have taken matters into their own hands by putting posters up at hogweed hotspots to warn walkers of the dangers and how to spot them.

Jane Edyvean, a Tottington resident who runs Friends of Kirklees Nature Reserve, is worried residents do not know what giant hogweed is.

She said: “This plant is dangerous. It can cause life-changing scarring which means you have to keep your skin covered from sunlight.

“Where I live, we’ve got kids playing outside. So many more people have been out in the area where I walk now and it’s absolutely covered in hogweed.

“The council have got a programme of spraying it. Personally, I think more needs to be done. We have it in the borough and we have it in abundance.

“You can get burnt just by brushing up against it. It’s a pretty nasty plant.

“It’s in all these places that people are taking their daily exercise and are doing so more and more and I just don’t think people are aware of it.

“There’s a lot of common hogweed about and it’s very similar. But the stalks of the giant hogweed are very distinctive because it tends to be a mottled green and purple. Once you’ve seen it, you know it.”

The council’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Alan Quinn, said the local authority is tackling the problem with the help of the Mersey Rivers Trust.

He said: “Wherever it’s reported, we spray it – but we’ve only got a small team. That’s why sometimes we rely on volunteers.

“If you get fast-flowing water, the seeds spread down the river so the problem we had was the Boxing Day floods.

“Also, the land along the river, Bury Council could treat that – but the bit next to that could belong to a private landowner.”

Cllr Quinn was asked whether more needs to be done to warn people of the dangers of giant hogweed.

He said: “It’s very distinctive, but it’s something we need to look at with officers.”