Danger - A Botanical Jurassic Park

What a beauty ! How about a 15-foot-tall bright-green-leafed plant with really hairy purple-colored four-inch thick stems, the leaves of which are three or more feet across, and with huge clusters of pristine white flowers heavy enough to wear out the arms of anyone foolish enough to try carrying them? More than likely you would take a moment to look for dinosaurs asleep in their shade.



Is it big - or what?
Is it big - or what? | Source
He is really NOT a little person
He is really NOT a little person | Source
Now you know what a broadleaf plant can get to be
Now you know what a broadleaf plant can get to be | Source
A stem that does not look good enough to eat
A stem that does not look good enough to eat | Source
You would not want to be swatted with this giant flower cluster
You would not want to be swatted with this giant flower cluster | Source
Impressive Giant Hogweed even in the wintertime
Impressive Giant Hogweed even in the wintertime | Source
You can find the doggone Giant Hogweed plants  almost anywhere
You can find the doggone Giant Hogweed plants almost anywhere | Source

Everything you feared to ask

The name of this marvel of a monster plant belies its beauty. Its name also does not do justice to its meanness, either. This behemoth among weedy flowers is called the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) – truly a plant with a name almost as big as itself.

The Internet links that existed when this article was first written no longer seem to work. However, there are many references to Giant Hogweed on the Internet that tell you all about its good looks and bad ways. Here,I will tell you a thing or two about the plant and the problems it can provide for the innocents to whom the monster is, as yet, an unknown, but I do urge you to find out more about the plant. It is far worse than poison ivy, poison oak, and fire ants, all combined in a single exposure. Check out the booklet about the Giant Hogweed that is produced by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Giant Hogweed may look pretty, but it is possessed of clear sap that is far from being pretty. Get this sap onto your skin and you are in for some real blistering. If you are then foolish enough to venture out into the sunshine while some of the sap is sitting on your exposed hide, get ready for some super blistering – like deep burns. If you get some sap in your eyes, you can be blinded. Don’t let the broad leaves, the brightly purple hairy stems, the super-wide leaves, or the monstrous flower clusters fool you. The Giant Hogweed is bad news for people.

I have copied some photos from that Michigan booklet for you to look at. I would tell you to "enjoy" the photos, but when you view them, do so with some serious thoughts coursing around upstairs. The Giant Hogweed is not enjoyable. It is a plant menace the seeds of which blow around in the wind such that you might find some of these mean-natured plants growing in your own garden or in your favorite fishing getaway. The things grow all over the United States, imported here from you-know-where.

The booklet was produced for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture. Neither wants you to propagate Giant Hogweed, so if you come upon any in your travels or in your yard, give someone a holler to help you get rid of it. Here’s a hotline for you to try: 1-800-292-3939.



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Comments 28 comments

tmeans profile image

tmeans 5 years ago from Texas

It's a shame that something can look good and be so bad. I found this very interesting. I've never seen a picture of this plant before. Thanks for the article.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I have never seen a plant like that and I don't think I want to see it up close. This was a very interesting hub.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

I've never heard of it Gus and just over a year ago i'd never heard of you either. Problem is i'm finding it hard to work out who the biggest pest is:)

OK it's the Giant Hogweed, but it was a close run thing.

We've got our fair share of pests over here in in Oz, one of them is typing as we speak, or read in your case.

Cane toads are a massive problem here, purposely introduced to kill cane bugs. They are spreading like wildfire. They are poisonous to other wildlife too, so they are wiping other things out too. We haven't got ant Triffids though, so i can't outdo your Hogweed. Cheers buddy.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wow, thats a new one Gus. Assume its native Asian.Thank goodness the imported kudzu down here doesn't have harmful sap or we'd all be blistered and blind in these parts. Cane toads. Aren't they much sought after by psycho-nauts for licking & dried excretion smoking attempted humor. Informative & interesting article Gus.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi tmeans - I guess we have to take the good with the bad, don't we?

Gus :-)))


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy pamela - Me and thee, both! I never saw one, either, but the word is that the rascally thing is out there all over the country and those charged with getting rid of noxious plants are busy at it.

Gus :-)))


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Alastar - Yes. This plant was brought here from Asia. Supposedly it was put into some sort of "museum" in Rochester, New York, from which it "escaped." It is said to now infest New York State quite heavily (as such thing go...).

As to Kudzu (a vine), it was imported to help control erosion along stream banks and the like. It kinda got out of control in the southeastern states. Kudzu has several redeeming traits, however. It can help with erosion problems, it can be cooked and eaten, and it is also used for a type of tea. Watch out, though, when it takes off down the road and begins to cover anything and everything it encounters along the way.

As Keith provides, cane toads are not good neighbors.

Gus :-)))


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy Keith (attemptedhumor) - I figured out a solution to your cane toads problem. Export the things and import triffids. Short of that, cajole one of those TV chef shows into coming up with a detoxified platter of the toadies that the home folks can whomp together easily, flavored with some well-fermented sauce.

I have not yet personally seen one of those Giant Hogweed plants - but I have seen plenty of their kissing cousins (Queen Anne's Lace, sometimes also called "Wild Carrot").

This short study brings to mind a funny incident from back in those school days. Our dendrology professor used to test us students with plant identification while on field trips. One day he tested the class on a patch of poison ivy, in this instance, a patch of non-typical growth poison ivy. You can imagine the result.

Gus :-)))


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Gus, up, useful and interesting! I've not seen or heard of these plants and now I hope a picture is as close as I ever get. I wonder if they can propagate in the wilds of the desert, 50


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi 50 - I know what you are saying ! As to growing these things in the desert, I suppose it is possible, but I don't have the answer for you on that one. Suggestion: "Forget that."

Gus :-)))


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Gus, I'm not interested in growing them just interested in the odds of accidentally running into one, 50


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy again 50 - I cannot attest to the accuracy of my next guess, but I would guess that your chances of meeting up with a Giant Hogweed plant in the desert is about as good a chance as there is in my winning the Lotto. :)

Gus :-)))


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks for the redeeming info on kudzu Gus. Maybe it'll come in handy one day for something besides erosion.:D


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy Alastar - Happy to be of assistance to you.

Now, check these things out - things you can do with kudzu -

Baskets, Paper, Jellies and Syrup from blossoms, Books, Hay to feed cattle, Deep-fried leaves, Quiche (and other dshes), a Drug for alcoholism, Ground-up root for foods and medicines.

Pretty good for a "weed" that grows a-mile-a-minute! Oh, yes, don't forget to keep your windows closed at night or wake up tied down with kudzu vines to your bed in the morning.

Here's a link for you - http://www.maxshores.com/kudzu/

Gus :-)))


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Holy hog - that's a pretty tall weed - you could almost hang a swing on it~


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Audrey (akirchner) - Never did hear if you won that contest deal...

You are correct - this guy is a pretty tall weed. Imagine sending your favorite marijuana addict out to get a baggie filled with one Giant Hogweed kind of weed.

Gus :-)))


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I am giving this Hub a giant WOW. Who woulda thunk it?!


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy Hyphenbird - That sounds like what I said when I found out about this monster weed. I learned that folks can't smoke this weed. Otherwise there might be a mass migration to areas where it is now growing. :)

For my next trick I am working on an article about some very strange (and pesky) ants.

Gus :-)))


leann2800 5 years ago

Wow! That stem looks horrid.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi leann - You nailed it! I believe that if I came upon one of these Giant Hogweed plants, I would turn around and run away as fast as I could.

Gus :-)))


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

Great photos.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy chspublish - Yes. I enjoyed the photos, too. All came from the booklet produced by/for Michigan State's department of agriculture and the USDA.

Gus :-)))


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi Gus - yes, they are really nasty. I've seen a few growing wild, but I can't remember where. Pretty sure it wasn't here in Qatar though. Not a lot grows here without irrigation.

Another lesser menace is ragwort. If it gets into a hayfield and gets cut with the hay, it can kill a horse.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Hello Dave (Paraglider) - It is really good to hear from you once again. That Giant Hogweed plant is difficult to NOT see should you come upon one, but it is disconcerting to consider that ragwort can sneak on into a hayfield and, there, zap horses from its hiding place. Ouch! "Survival of the fittest" may prove "Good for the goose..." but that does not translate to "Safe for the gander...," does it?

Gus :-)))


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

As a person who is highly allergic to poison ivy I hope never to see or get close to this monster plant. Thanks for the "heads up!"


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy Peggy - I, too, hope that you never get close to this monster plant. Me, either. Used to get poison ivy a lot when I was a kid (...2 years ago?), even from just walking down the street where someone was burning a pile of leaves that contained some poison ivy. But this monster plant won't only make a person itch and swell up. It actually is said to give really bad burns. No thank you for me, and no thank you for Peggy, right?

Gus :-)))


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Hi Gus, thank you for your recent visit. Over here in England this monster is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Country side Act. This forbids it to be purposely grown or the seeds released into the countryside. At our Park where the plant occurs the Countryside Rangers only allow the foliage to grow for educational purposes the flower heads are never allowed to seed. And as you have rightly pointed out about the caustic sap, the Rangers have to ware protective clothing and eye shields when cutting the plant down.. This is also true to a lesser extent of the common hogweed. Excellent hub Gus.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you DAL - Space suits are helpful, are they not?

Gus :-)))

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