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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Foragers diary ; easy mistake to make 2

Common and Giant hogweed

Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons The leaves of common hogweed 
The leaves of the giant hogweed are much more deeply 'toothed' and aggressively serrated, and just generally larger. 

To put the size difference between giant and common hogweed into perspective this is my watch around a giant hogweed stem, now look below at the full stem to get an idea of the full scale of it. 
These plants might grow to five meters tall

You can tell just by the size of the hairs compared to the stem that this common hogweed stem is much smaller than it's giant relative. The stem of the common hogweed has much less red colouration, in terms of actual dimensions the common hogweed stem might reach two or three centimetres, maybe up to five at the extreme end. Whereas the giant hogweed will have stems of between 5 and 10 centimetres and grow to up to five meters tall.

The problem is that many people assume common hogweed is giant hogweed as it may grow to 2 meters, which is fairly big, but once you have compared the two there really is no doubt which is which. Just make sure you get the right one, because the common hogwied will yield delicious seeds, wild greens, edible flowers, buds and stems which the giant hogweed is certainly not edible and has sap which is extremely phototoxic meaning that if you get it on your skin it will react with sunlight and burn you. It also maintains this toxic property for some time so it may continue to burn every time you expose the affected area to sunlight for weeks and months to come. DON'T CONFUSE THESE TWO.


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