Monday, June 28, 2010


Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

Oh, I know what you're thinking.

Oh, Michele, why don't you tell us about something pretty, like Meadow Vetchling?

Shel, why don't you tell us about Forget-Me-Nots or Foxglove?

Hey, why don't you tell us more about that dream-boat Herb-Robert?

First of all, Herb-Robert isn't all that dreamy. In fact, he's getting a bit long in the tooth around now. Besides, Hogweed is on my mind.

Hogweed is a fascinating plant. Like foxglove, there's really no mistaking it for anything else ... except Giant Hogweed which I'll get to in a moment.

more Hogweed
Unfortunately for Hogweed, it's that member of society that I just don't really want to befriend. Oh, I acknowledge it when I walk by but that's it. It sort of reminds me of the dogs next door. I think they're called "Border Terriers". Now anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs but these dogs are like Hogweed. For instance, I walked out of my house one afternoon and those terriers were yapping at me as they always do. One of them strode up to me and looked at my leg, as if wondering whether it was worth peeing on or not. He decided not to (thank you for that) and walked over to a nearby parked car where he started to chew on something from the wheel well. I think you get my drift.

So what makes Hogweed both interesting and mildly revolting at the same time? It's because it has this amazing ability to attract insects. Just so you know, the ability to attract green bottle flies is not something I really look for in a friend [despite recent news from the medical community suggesting that green bottle fly larvae can be used to treat gangrenous foot ulcers].

Hogweed and associates Hogweed and associates


Hogweed is said to be edible (!!) and even delicious. Remember however that some folks enjoy nettle soup and chow down on parsnips. Also consider that Hogweed looks remarkably similiar to Giant Hogweed.

One source warns:

The [Giant Hogweed] plant exudes a clear watery sap which sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet radiation. This can result in severe burns to the affected areas resulting in severe blistering and painful dermatitis. These blisters can develop into purplish or blackened scars.
Enough said.

Update July 1: I was able to find this photo of the type of insect to be found on Giant Hogweed. Yet another reason to avoid this plant when possible.

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