Quantock Hills Blog

A pig of a plant!

- Ranger Bex talks Hogweed

Rebekah West

Posted by Rebekah West on 14 September 2015

A pig of a plant! Recently, whilst carrying out checks and management on Cothelstone Hill, I have been approached by a number of people asking why we aren’t getting rid of the Hogweed on the hill.

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) has been in the news lately, publicising the dangers it presents.  It’s sap contains furocoumarins, which cause phyto-photodermatitis - in short, when the sap is exposed to the sun on the skin it causes reddening, rashes and blisters in worst cases.  People are right to be concerned; however, what we have at Cothelstone Hill is Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) and Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) (amongst some of the smaller umbellifers) It has been a fantastic growing year, and the Hogweed is benefitting from this by growing rather large. Have a look at the pictures below- Giant Hogweed really is significantly bigger and the leaves are much more sharply divided.  The following website also has a fantastic download which outlines the comparisons: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/?pageid=152

A minor word of warning however, the sap of Common Hogweed also causes a similar reaction to that of Giant Hogweed, but not as serious.  Because of this, when strimming I cover myself up as if I cut through Common Hogweed, I stand a chance of getting blisters.

Common Hogweed at Cothelstone Hill:


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