Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

 

Collins, 170; Readers Digest, 195

This is one of the commonest species of the parsley family.  The white flowers attract large numbers of insects.  Until recently Hogweed was gathered for pig fodder which gives rise to its name.  It used also to be eaten by humans in a boiled form.  Also in this family is Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum) which is much larger and stouter.  Common Hogweed flowers from April to November and Giant Hogweed from June to July with large clumps of white petals.  Giant Hogweed if scratched on the skin can give rise to nasty reactions and if one is cutting Giant Hogweed with a strimmer or brushwood cutter, the vapours given off can lead to severe respiratory conditions requiring hospitalisation.  Both plants should be handled with gloves and treated carefully.

 

Hogweed about to burst into flower