Wonderful Weeds: HOGWEED or COW PARSNIP – A Big, Tall Weed Whose Flowers Are a Magnet for Bees, Hoverflies and Other Beneficial Garden Insects

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium

Other names: cow parsnip, keck, limberscrimps

Life cycle: biennial/perennial


The 20cm (8in) wide umbrella-like flowerheads are a magnet for beneficial hoverflies and appear from late spring.

Often seen on roadsides, this tough, taprooted weed can be difficult to remove if it gets a foothold in beds or borders. Leafy rosettes of deeply lobed leaves grow first, which then overwinter before producing flowering shoots up to 3m (10ft) tall. Hogweed is ideal for a ‘bug bank’ because insects flock to the flat ‘landing pad’ flowerheads and you can easily cut off the unripe seeds. Don’t get the sap on your skin – like giant hogweed, it can cause severe blistering.

Earth-friendly solutions: Hoe; fork/dig out; mulch.

Moderately easy to control.

Check out some other wonderful weeds:

Borage Borago officinalis

Chickweed Stellaria media

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

Teasel Dipsacus fullonum

how-to-control-garden-allotment-weeds-organicallyThis is an edited extract from my book Weeds: An Organic, Earth-friendly Guide to Their Identification, Use and Control.

Learn how to identify 60 common garden and allotment weeds. Find out how to enjoy, utilise and gently get rid of weeds, without the use of polluting chemical weedkillers…

Find out more about Weeds and buy the book direct from the author here.


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