GIANT hogweed has started reappearing near rivers and canals in Bolton ­— with warnings from the past of the damage it can do to.

Now a Bolton MP and the Mersey River Trust have issued warnings to the public to avoid the plant, with it beginning to grow at popular spots once again.

Giant hogweed usually grows near waterways, such as rivers and canals, and has been spotted along the river Tonge and Croal in Bolton ­— and in Moses Gate and Leverhulme Park.

It is a plant that takes up to two years to grow, grows up to around 18 foot tall, with each plant spreading up to 100,000 seeds, making it an extremely invasive plant.

Contact with the plant can cause severe burns and blisters, which are extremely sensitive to the sun for years, and can cause blindness if it comes into contact with eyes.

However, Mike Duddy, Senior Project Manager at Mersey River Trust, explained: “As we are getting more and more seeds and it is not being treated it’s now growing away from water.

“People need to know what it looks like as it is the most dangerous plant in Britain.

“You just have to brush against it to or touch the sap from its stem which causes photosensitive burns which needs to be treated in hospital.

“These burns can take up to six years to recover.”

Mr Duddy, who works with authorities in Bury and Salford to control the plant, described that the Mersey River Trust had mapped the plants origins to Eagley Brook, near Blackburn Road ­— where it then spreads down rivers and canals to Bury, Salford and Manchester.

It can be treated with spray fairly easily, with Bury and Salford imposing clear action plans on how to deal with the plant, according to Mr Duddy.

He said: “It’s a massive public safety issue. Especially children are at danger from it every year, more and more people are getting burnt. People are unaware of what it looks like.

“Salford has a great programme attacking this problem. It would be good to see if Bolton can do the same.”

In 2015, four Harper Green School pupils were building a den near Cromptons Lodge on Saturday when they came into contact with giant hogweed.

Two of the teenagers suffered such bad blisters that they were taken to A&E.

Bolton South East MP, Yasmin Qureshi, has also encouraged residents to learn more about the dangerous plant.

She said: “It is advised that everyone should avoid giant hogweed, especially children.

“Giant hogweed is similar to other plants, but there are some key differences, so it’s important that you know how to identify it.”

She has been in contact with Bolton’s environmental service to ask what the council is doing to tackle this.

She added: “I know that Moses Gate Country Park is a popular destination at the moment for people in Bolton South East, especially for walkers and families who want to get out of the house for some fresh air, so if you do go down there please keep an eye out for giant hogweed.

“In terms of removing the giant hogweed, the council authorities do act to remove it when they are made aware of it.

“Despite the current lack of resources due to the coronavirus crisis and cuts to funding, the council has already carried out a programme of eradication this spring and will continue to treat new plants in parks and our open spaces as a matter of urgency.”

If you spot giant hogweed, it can be reported to the council at