Common Hogweed

Heracleum spp.

Cow Parsnip

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HeracleumSosnowskyi 001 by Hugo.arg (CC-BY-SA-3.0)
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Some Heracleum plants with white flowers and green leaves growing in the wild
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HeracleumSosnowskyi 001 by Hugo.arg (CC-BY-SA-3.0)
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Heracleum is a genus containing approximately 52 biennial or perennial species in the carrot family, Apiaceae. They are commonly known by the names hogweed and cow parsnip and can be found across the Northern Hemisphere in temperate climates. Some are found in mountainous areas in Ethiopia this represents the southernmost range of this genus. These plants have large leaves, often divided and many species have thick, hairy, ribbed stems covered with reddish-purple markings. Massive green-white or pink flowers arranged on structures called umbels appear in late summer. Umbels are clusters which radiate from a central stem point, producing flowers on stalks of roughly equal length, to form a flattened or slightly rounded, horizontal surface of blooms. A stunning architectural plant once grown as an ornamental plant in the 19th Century, it is now an offence to plant or encourage certain species to grow in the wild in the UK. For example giant hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum. This thuggy plant is easily confused with the related species Heracleum sphondylium, commonly called hogweed, these plants grow to notably different sizes, but are tricky to distinguish. Plant size is the best identifier, this species grows much larger compared to hogweed. The leaf shape also differs slightly between these species. For this plant, giant hogweed, the leaves are more textured, pointed and in a three-dimensional arrangement and in hogweed, the leaves are generally arranged in a flat, single plane.

Related Plants

Special features

Attractive flowers

Attractive leaves

Attracts butterflies

Attracts useful insects

Attracts bees



Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture


Frost hardiness





Flower colour

Pink, White