An overgrown area where a three-year-old girl is believed to have suffered burns from giant hogweed has been treated by Dundee City Council.
Three-year-old Ruby Duffy needed hospital treatment after picking weeds last week at Grassy Beach.
Despite being unable to locate the toxic plant, environmental workers have now treated the area with weed killer.
Ruby’s hands could now be susceptible to blisters from sunlight exposure for years after the incident.
Her mum Caitlin Duffy says she contacted the council about the issue in the hope of something being done quickly.
She said: “Ruby was with her gran when she touched it but I’ve since been down to see how bad it is.
“The whole area is really overgrown with weeds and some look like giant hogweed.”
Public health issue
Councils and landowners have no legal obligation to remove commonly found invasive, non-native plants such as giant hogweed.
But many recognise doing nothing could see it take over public areas such as paths and burns, creating a danger to people and animals.
Dundee City Council describes the spread of the weed as a “public health issue”.
The local authority’s website says it has been taking action to control it and is encouraging other land owners to do the same.
Caitlin added: “I didn’t think it would be in a public place or somewhere a child would have easy access to it.
“If a child wants to touch something, there’s not really any stopping them.
“The council told me last week they will treat the area and notify neighbouring landowners.
“I think they try to clear it from children’s play parks but you would think a public walkway would be just as important.
“A lot of people cycle down there too — can you imagine if someone fell off and landed in it?”
Grassy Beach is adjacent to the east coast railway line, meaning some of the land is owned by Network Rail, while other sections around the Stannergate are privately owned.
The areas containing what looks like giant hogweed closest to the footpath/cycle path are maintained by Dundee City Council.
The plant, which can grow to over 10ft tall, should only be cut while wearing full protective clothing.
Caitlin has received an email from the council’s environmental management team who wished Ruby well and said they have looked into the incident.
It states the whole of Grassy Beach was checked on Tuesday and “this plant and any others have been treated with weed killer”.
Dundee City Council say its parks team did not manage to spot the toxic plant but couldn’t rule out it being there.
A spokesperson said: “Our officers have surveyed the location to establish whether giant hogweed is present at the site.
“The investigative works found similar but non-toxic plant species. We continue to be fully engaged in the matter.”
Reminder of giant hogweed dangers
The Property Care Association (PCA) has issued a warning about the risks to the public and property owners.
It has also published guidance on managing giant hogweed.
Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, says the plant’s sap is “extremely toxic” to the skin in sunlight.
He said: “Youngsters are more likely to come into contact with the plant during the summertime and the mix of warm weather and rain has provided good conditions for the weed to take hold this year.
“Giant hogweed is also spreading across a wider area, meaning that people are more likely to encounter it.
“The general public, as well as local authorities, statutory agencies and landowners on whose property people can come into contact with the plant, should be aware of the risks and giant hogweed needs to be controlled and managed professionally.”