How do you tell the difference between the two?
This can ultimately be a bit of a head-scratcher, the less green fingered amongst us may struggle. From afar both plants look incredibly similar……tall, thick stems, large leaves, white flowers…..but the differences are there if you know what to look for. If you do happen upon either of these plants don’t wade in à la David Bellamy style, particularly the Giant Hogweed. The toxicity of the sap can cause blindness, skin inflammations and sunlight sensitive burns with the capacity to re-occur over 10 years.
So, down to the nitty gritty. What to look for. In the unlikely event you see a fully grown Giant Hogweed next to a fully grown Cow Parsnip, the first telling difference between the plants would be the height. The Cow Parsnip fully grown tops around 7 feet. The Giant Hogweed hitting heights of 14 feet, or in terms of Soilutions’ employees thats equivalent to three Anne’s or two Andy’s!
The stems provide a visual difference. The Cow Parsnip’s stem, green and ridged with fine white hairs. The Hogweed stem, green with purple / reddish splotches and coarse white hairs.
The leaves of the Hogweed have a knife-like serrated edge. The shape of the Cow Parsnip leaf is similar to that of a maple leaf.
The Hogweed flower cluster may consist up to 50 rays, the Parsnip up to 30 rays. Rays, in layman terms are the stems of the flowers protruding from the main stem of the plant.
Hopefully this will lend to a better understanding of the difference between the two plants. For more info on Giant Hogweed and other invasive species check out the blog posts .
Giant Hogweed removal
Accurately identifying an invasive weed without any prior knowledge can be tricky for the lesser green fingered amongst us, especially when there is a health risk involved. This free eBook will help educate, identify, treat and address the dangers of Giant Hogweed.