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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Sunday 15th July 2012

This is the fourth time, this season, that I’ve written about Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed, growing in Edinburgh. Each of those photo-blogs (17th May, 15th June and 27th June) has featured the same stretch of road as I wanted to chart the development of the plants and see if any control measures were taken.

On my most recent visit, I also took some pictures in other areas to give an idea of how widespread this unpleasant plant has become.

But first, how are the plants, last shown beginning to flower, doing? Well, they are finishing flowering and setting seed.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

Most of them are, anyway. There are a few plants that illustrate one of the difficulties of giant hogweed control. The plants I photographed for the 27th June in front of a gate have been cut down. As explained in this piece  28th June 2011 from last year, plants want to produce seeds and, sure enough, the cut-down plants are starting to regrow in the hope of completing their reproduction cycle.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

About 200m south on the same road, this smaller clump has also produced seed.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

This next picture shows a piece of land immediately adjacent to a house on the road passed the Dobbies Garden Centre. I would imagine the householder has problems with the plant appearing in the garden but the land looks like one of those plots that no-one appears to own.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

Just on the other side of the road, there was one sign of someone taking action. There has been a single Heracleum mantegazzianum growing at the edge of a field but I hadn’t photographed it before because it would have involved parking some distance away and walking back. On this visit, that was what I intended to do but the plant had gone so someone must have acted against it as it began to set seed.

But I’ll end on a positive note resulting from a visit to the Fort Kinnaird shopping area. This is where, in 2009, I took this picture of giant hogweed seeds on a plant in the car park for the Tesco Home Plus store on the estate.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

This year, in the same car park, there is still giant hogweed but it seems to be doing a lot less well, though I think that has more to do with the weather than any human intervention.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

But that is not the positive point.

I also took this picture of an area of undeveloped land within the estate.

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

This is an almost identical view of the same piece of land in May 2010

Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed

Someone acted against the plants and has shown that control measures can be effective.

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