While serious poisoning from plants is extremely unlikely in the UK, there are some plants we should be careful around, especially when pruning, weeding, cutting flowers or deadheading. These plants have irritant sap that can cause anything from a minor rash to blistering of the skin and sometimes – in extreme cases – temporary blindness. What’s more, some plants, such as giant hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum, have sap which causes the skin to become extremely sensitive to sunlight. This can result in severe sunburn and potentially long-term skin discolouration.
There’s no need to panic. Simply by wearing gloves and long sleeves while handling these plants is enough to prevent contact. However, it’s worth knowing which plants could affect you, and you may wish to teach your children of the dangers of certain plants and even avoid growing some types of plants while your children are very young.