Help needed to detect "alien" plants

The Partnership for Rural Inverness and Nairn is asking for help to detect “alien” Giant Hogweed plants that are just starting to appear in Nairnshire, East Inverness and the Black Isle. 

The plants are up to 4 metres tall, one and half metres across and touch these natives of Central Asia and you will get severe burns, swelling and acute, painful blistering.  They can be found along roadsides, burns, on the edges of fields and on areas of disturbed ground.  Each one can produce up to 1500 seeds every autumn and they are spreading. 

PRIN Officer Bill Forrest said: “We need people’s help by asking everyone to report any findings of Giant Hogweed which is spreading across the area.  We want to find out where it is, so that we can take action to get rid of this unpleasant menace. 

“As well as being dangerous for children, it is an aggressive competitor, which can out-compete our native plant species, reducing the amount of suitable habitat available for insects, birds and mammals.  We know that there are large numbers of plants around the River Nairn, Auldearn Burn, west of Nairn and the Munlochy area of the Black Isle, but where else is it to be found? 

“I urge people to contact me if they come across any plants they suspect might be Giant Hogweed. If we take action over the next few years we might be able to get rid of this unwelcome visitor.”

Other than in size, Giant Hogweed bears a close resemblance to Cow Parsley and Hogweed. It has a reddish purple stem and spotted leaf stalks, with fine spines that make it appear furry.  The leaves may expand to 1.5 metres in width with flower heads commonly 250 mm in width.

If you know of the location of any Giant Hogweed in the Highlands then please e-mail Bill Forrest at or telephone Derek Hamilton on 01667 458822.



24 May 2006