Giant Hogweed

giant hogweed

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a tall (up to 15-20 ft), herbaceous, biennial plant.

Origin/Introduction into U.S.:

Giant hogweed is native to central and southwest Asia. It was intentionally introduced via the nursery industry where it eventually escaped and spread.


Giant hogweed suppresses the growth of native plants, which has a negative impact on native wildlife. In addition, giant hogweed poses a threat to human health as direct skin contact with the plant’s toxic sap induces extreme photosensitivity causing slow to heal burns and scarring. this sap can also cause blindness upon contact with the eyes. Costs are incurred for both medical treatment and efforts to keep the plant under control. Over 100,000 seeds per plant are dispersed annually by water, wind, or humans. Giant hogweed is a designated Federal Noxious Weed.

hogweed skin

Habitat:  Giant hogweed invades disturbed areas across both the Northeast and Pacific Northwestern United States. Although often found in open fields and along roadsides, it has been observed along streams in natural areas.


Leaves: palmately compound, with three deeply incised leaflets, with spotted leaf stalk,  enormous,  lower leaves can be 5’ wide.  Only basal leaves are produced the first year.

hogweed leaves

Flowers: 50-150 white, small, many borne in large, loose umbels at tops of stems. Blooms late June through August.

hogweed flower

Stems: often purple-mottled, up to 4-in in diameter, hollow and ridged.

hogweed stem

hogweed stem open

                                                                                   Fruit/Seeds: flat, oval dry fruit, .375” long, broadly rounded base and broad marginal ridges

hogweed seeds

Reproduction: by seed


NOTE: Make sure all skin is covered when working with this plant!

Physical/Mechanical Control: Hogweed is difficult to control due to its toxic effects on the skin.  A small number of plants can be hand dug, but care should be taken to remove most of the root and to protect skin and eyes.

Repeated mowing does not kill the plant and causes resprouting, but it  may weaken the plant if done consistently and persistently enough to starve the roots.

Chemical Control:Foliar treatments with glyphosate or triclopyr have been effective. Glyphosate is considered the most effective herbicide and should be used in spring and early summer when plants are less than three feet tall. A follow-up application in midsummer may be necessary. Use caution around desirable species since glyphosate is non-selective.

For More Information:

Difficult to control due to damage it posses to skin.  A small number of plants can be hand dug.  Repeated mowing weakens the plants but the large root can remain alive for many years. Foliar treatments with glyphosate or triclopyr have been effective.  Make sure all skin is covered when working with this plant.

Photo Credits:

Profile photo: New York Invasive Species Information, Giant hogweed burn: USDA APHIS PPQ, Oxford, NC, Leaves photo: Donna R. Ellis, University of CT, photo: Terry English, USDA APHIS PPQ, Stem photos: Leslie J.Mehrohff, University of CT, Fruit/Seed photo: Cesar Calderon, USDA APHIS PPQ,



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Black & Pale Swallow-worts | Giant Hogweed | Purple Loosestrife | Water Chestnut |Glossy Buckthorn | Eurasian Water Milfoil | Rock Snot, DidymoEuropean Frogbit | Japanese Knotweed

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