KEIGHLEY parents and carers are being urged to alert their children to the dangers of giant hogweed.

Experts warn that the invasive plant's sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight.

And cases are often reported in the summer holidays, when young people encounter it.

Contact with any part of the weed, followed by exposure to sunlight, can cause severe discomfort and blistering.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the Property Care Association invasive weed control group, says: "Each year we hear of people who are injured by giant hogweed and quite often it is children who encounter it whilst out playing in the summer holidays.

"Our advice is to stay away from this plant and not allow its toxic sap to come into contact with skin in the sunlight.

"The sap can also be transferred via touch, so it can possibly affect somebody else through clothing and footwear."

Giant hogweed has a five to eight centimetre diameter stem and a large, white, umbrella-shaped flowering head.

Its leaves, which are sharply serrated or divided, can reach up to two metres in width. The stem is usually covered in bristles and has blotchy purple markings.

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