I wonder, have any of you heard of Common Hogweed? I only first heard about it last year when I went on a foraging course near Tring. It is a highly regarded, edible weed that grows almost everywhere. I’m sure you recognise it from the pictures! So, what parts are edible, how do we identify it and how do we prepare it?
When out foraging for hogweed, look out for:
- Leaves: Large, 3-5 lobes, hairy, serrated.
- Stem: Hairy, grooved, hollow, striated, starting purple (not blotchy), becoming green, new joints and flower buds emerge from papery ‘parcels’. 1-2 metres tall fully grown.
- Flowers: White to pink, 5 petalled, 15-30 rays arranged in umbels of up to 30cm. Petals on outside of umbel usually larger. From a distance, I recognise hogweed by the flattened tops of the umbels – though this is insufficient for full identification.1
Now, the best part of common hogweed are the budding leaves, as shown in the pictures below. Big leaves aren’t tasty! Once you’ve picked them, wash them and fry them till they are almost crispy. There’s no need to add any seasoning, these buds are flavoursome already.
Note: Be careful not to confuse with Giant Hogweed, which is very dangerous! These are its characteristics:
- Between 7 and 14 feet tall
- Huge leaves, incised and deeply lobed up to 5 feet across
- Stems are green with extensive purple splotches
If you think you have found Giant Hogweed, write a report here.
1Mark. “Common Hogweed – Identification, Edibility, Distribution.” Galloway Wild Foods, www.gallowaywildfoods.com/hogweed/.