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Wednesday 22 August 2012

Giant Hogweed

Now we all know this plant, maybe mistakable with other umbelifers when young but certainly not when it grows up!

you can sometimes come across forests of the stuff

The purple blotches reminescent of other dangerous umbels

it's the sap that is the most immediate danger with this plant,blistering your skin when exposed to sunlight, I did experience a little of this when cutting into this one, a little sap landed on my hand and after a few minutes the skin raised and blistered slightly just like a nettle sting, but I really wouldn't want a lot of skin exposed to this sap.
When dry the stems make good little possibles containers! some of them being as large in diameter as your arm!

1 comment:

  1. This looks exactly like what we call Cow Parsnip. I hadn't thought about using the outer fibers. We use the plant as a substitute for celery. It's not too tasty raw, but delicious cooked in soups and stews. I cook it in meat stock to add to cornbread dressing to get the flavor, rather than cut it up directly into the batter. I usually pick the stalks when small -- under 3 or 4 feet, but they can be picked when much larger if they have not deteriorated too much. As long as the smell is still good, they are useful. The sap is irritating to some people (before the plant is cooked), but none of us have ever had a problem with it. Like stinging nettle, once cooked or dried, it doesn't cause problems.

    I cut the stalks into pieces about 8 inches long, slice them in half lengthwise and spread them out to dry. This year I experimented with blanching in boiling water for about 3 minutes before dehydrating. The color is greatly improved and they dried faster. I don't know yet if the flavor is improved. To use them, I just drop a few dried pieces into a pot of soup, and then fish them out before we eat, just as I would use whole dried bay leaves.

    The seeds can be used in a tea or tincture for digestive troubles. My sons like to have "sword fights" with the huge old stalks. ;)