BARRHEAD residents have raised safety fears over a toxic plant that has been thriving in the town during recent warm weather.

Giant hogweed, which can cause agonising blisters, has been growing around Auchenback Community Park and Aurs Burn, which runs through a residential area.

The plant’s sap is extremely toxic to the skin and coming into contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, can lead to severe discomfort.

One concerned Aursbridge Crescent resident, who asked not to be named, told the Barrhead News: “There is a horrendous giant hogweed problem here.

“Aurs Burn goes from Auchenback Community Park and flows all the way down past Barrhead High and there’s an outbreak of it all the way along there.

“Between Aursbridge Crescent and St Mary’s Crescent, there’s a path with giant hogweed on both sides and it could easily brush against people’s legs or their dogs.”

In 2017, the Barrhead News told how a schoolboy was hospitalised as a result of an encounter with giant hogweed in Auchenback Community Park.

The Cross Arthurlie Primary pupil suffered horrific injuries to his leg and arm.

Experts at NatureScot, the public body responsible for natural heritage, said injuries caused by contact with giant hogweed can be “serious and long lasting.”

Stan Whitaker, the agency’s invasive species policy manager, added: “It’s really important for people to be able to recognise giant hogweed so they can avoid potentially serious injury.

“Thankfully, the plant is relatively easy to identify when fully grown, due to its enormous size of between two and four metres tall, with large white clusters of flowers up to 80 centimetres wide.

“Its leaves are very large, while the stems are green with purple blotches and covered with bristly hairs.”

East Renfrewshire Council has said efforts have been made to tackle the giant hogweed problem but also stressed that the area from Aurs Road to Woodside Crescent is private land and not the local authority’s responsibility.

A spokesperson added: “Every spring, we treat Auchenback Community Park to remove any giant hogweed and prevent any new growth.

“We also inspect any council site where giant hogweed is reported to us and start a treatment programme.”