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how to spot giant hogweed

UK gardens are plagued by an assortment of unwanted plants. One of these is giant hogweed. It is dangerous to touch, so we’ve put together this guide to identifying it so you can have any trace of it on your property safely removed by professionals.


What does giant hogweed look like?

In simple terms, giant hogweed looks like a very, very large cow parsley plant:

  • Height: between 1.5 and 5m tall
  • Stems: green with white, bristly hair, hollow with ridges, and can be 10cm in diameter when fully grown
  • Leaves: hairy on the underside, and very large – up to 3m, even when divided into smaller leaflets and often have purple blotches along with a circle of hairs at the base
  • Flowers: upward facing small white flowers appear in June and July, clustered on umbrella-like heads, called umbels, that can reach a diameter of 60cm

All of this means giant hogweed is identifiable mainly by its size, as the name suggests, and the size of its leaves. Giant hogweed does bear a resemblance to elderflower, and to cow parsley, but neither of those have leaves as big or stems as thick as giant hogweed.

Take care when examining the plant to identify it. The sap of giant hogweed contains furocoumarin, which causes phytophotodermatitis – an extreme sensitivity to sunlight – if it comes into contact with your skin. This means you can suffer nasty blisters and burns if the skin is exposed to sunlight.

READ MORE: Is Giant Hogweed Dangerous?


Where does giant hogweed grow?

If you’re out for a walk along a UK riverbank, you may spot giant hogweed growing uncontrolled. It can also grow in your back garden. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to let giant hogweed spread into the wild, so if you do find it in your garden, it’s a good idea to get rid of it ASAP. However, because of the dangerous effects of the plant’s sap, we recommend you do not try to eradicate it yourself and instead utilise professional weed removal services.


If you have any concerns about weeds growing in your garden, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will be only too happy to get rid of them for you.

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