Skip to main content

Common hogweed is a great ingredient. The dangers of Giant Hogweed are well documented. Now they are hybridising we need to be even more cautious.

GeorgeFlavour Fred
Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondyliumn) ** Giant Hogweed & hybridisation warning

(Image is of the Red Soldier Beetle or Hogweed Bonking Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva))

One of my favourite plants, so much so that this humble member of the carrot family. Common Hogweed (AKA Cow Parsnip) gets its name from farming history because it was frequently collected and used as fodder for cattle. Also, when in flower, it smells like the back of a pig, which attracts flies and helps pollination.

My fascination comes from a culinary adventure in Lithuania; I enjoyed an entire dish made from the root as a soup, fermented leaves and stalks (sauerkraut style) and seasoned soured cream with the seeds (cardamom and orangey/orange tic tac flavour) on top. It was delicious!

Right now, I am trying to grab the remaining unfurled flower heads to pickle for dishes later in the year.

At present we are starting to see some hybridisation of Giant Hogweed & Common Hogweed. In order to avoid this risk avoid where they both exist.;jsessionid=CDBDB0D5D97955AD6FB8B9785C97BE15?sequence=1

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is loaded with the compound furocoumarin. It is present in common Hogweed (and parsnip) but in small amounts. The quantity in Giant Hogweed is so high that getting the sap on your skin will break down the melanin and expose you to UV rays. The exposed area will also now be exposed to UV rays for a number of years. Huge amounts of pictures out there of the impact of this plant which are pretty horrific burns, blisters and many years of scarring in worse cases.


Giant hogweed can grow 4-5 meters tall and is bigger in every way. In my opinion a beautiful plant

Huge leaves that are hairless with serious serrations versus common hogweed that has generally more rounded slightly hairy leaves which makes them appear less glossy

The flower heads are also massive boasting once opened more than double the flower stems (50+) than common hogweed (up to 25 approx). So many seeds generated on giant hogweed.

The main stem of giant hogweed has red/purple blotches and is really big stem sometimes as big as 5 inches across. Very hairy leaf joints on the stem


Author george

More posts by george