Heracleum (plant)

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Cow Parsnip.jpg
Flower and leaf of Cow Parsnip
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Heracleum

See text (about 60)

Heracleum is a genus of about 60 species (depending on taxonomic interpretation) of biennial and perennial herbs in the carrot family Apiaceae. They are found throughout the temperate northern hemisphere and in high mountains as far south as Ethiopia. Common names for the genus or its species include hogweed[1] and cow parsnip.[2][3]

Major species include:

  • Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed, is a native of the Caucasus Mountains, grows to 4–5 m tall. It has become a serious invasive weed in many areas of Europe and North America, after being introduced as a garden plant. It can cause severe phytophotodermatitis if the sap gets on human skin. The main mechanism for this dermatitis is extreme photosensitivity, causing severe sunburn on exposure to relatively small amounts of sunlight, with rash and blistering appearing within a few minutes: accordingly immediately covering sap-affected skin can prevent the dermatitis in many cases.
  • Heracleum persicum, Persian hogweed, is similar in size and properties to the giant hogweed, and was originally from Iran, Iraq and Turkey; it is known in northern Norway as the Tromsø palm.
  • Heracleum sphondylium, known as hogweed, is common in Europe.
  • Heracleum maximum (synonyms: Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum, Heracleum lanatum), Cow parsnip, is common in North America
  • Heracleum sosnowskyi, commonly known as Sosnowsky's hogweed, originally native to Caucasus. Now it is a common weed in the Baltic States, Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine.
  • Heracleum nepalense is common in Sikkim and Darjeeling district of India. Called chimphing in the Nepali language, it is considered medicinal for stomach ailments and its seeds are ground with tomato and taken as a relish, especially with boiled vegetables.



Note that this is a full list of the 187 names described in the genus; the majority of these names are treated as synonyms of earlier-described species by most botanists.


  1. ^ hogweed at Oxford Online Dictionaries
  2. ^ Bailey, L.H.; Bailey, E.Z.; the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium (1976). Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-505470-7. 
  3. ^ "Heracleum L". Tropicos.org. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 11 Oct 2011. 

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