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Common Hogweed
Heracleum sphondylium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Heracleum
Species: H. sphondylium
Binomial name
Heracleum sphondylium

Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) is an herbaceous biennial plant of the family Apiaceae, which grows in the prairies of Eurasia. It prefers rich humid soils. It is smaller in size than the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). It is an umbelliferous plant, in the same group as fennel, cow parsley, elder and giant hogweed. Umbelliferous plants are so named because of the umbrella-like arrangement of flowers they produce.

In Europe there are nine named subspecies.

Common Hogweed differs from giant hogweed in the absence of bristles on its stem. Rather, it is smooth, akin to bamboo.

Similar species

The water parsnip (swamp parsnip, sium suave), western water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii, poison hemlock) and spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata, spotted parsley, spotted cowbane) all have white flowers in large compound umbels, which can lead to misidentification. All water hemlock is highly poisonous,[1] but water parsnip is not.[2] Both have clusters of small white flowers shaped like umbrellas, and have the same habitat near the shore line of lakes and rivers. Water parsnip has leaves only once compound, and water hemlock has leaves which are three times compound. Water hemlock has a large swelling at the stem base, and has bracts at the base of each small flower cluster, not at the base of the main flower head.[3] The Water parsnip has small bracts at the base of flowers and main flower head as well.[4] Yarrow (Common Yarrow, Gordaldo, Nosebleed plant, Old Man's Pepper, Sanguinary, Milfoil, Soldier's Woundwort, Thousand-leaf (as its binomial name affirms), Thousand-seal or Achillea millefolium) also has many small white flowers in a cluster. However the yarrow has feathery looking leaves which are pinnately separated into small narrow segments.[5] The cow parsnip (heracleum lanatum, Heracleum maxinium, Indian Celery or Pushki) is also confused in this group with similar flower groupings. However, the cow parsnip has large, broad leaves, and an unpleasant odour.[6]


  1. ^ "Cicuta maculata.". Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  2. ^ "Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples By Harriet V Kuhnlein, Nancy J.". Google books.,M1. Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  3. ^ "Western Water Hemlock - Agriculture - Government of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  4. ^ "Water Parsnip - Agriculture - Government of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  5. ^ "Yarrow Achillea millefolium". Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  6. ^ "Heracleum lanatum". University of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2008-08-03.  


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