Monday, 25 April 2016

Heracleum Sphondylium

Heracleum sphondylium, common hogweed/ Wiesen-Bärenklau, is my new favourite weed. They are growing near hedges and on grassy places.
The edible parts at this time of the year are those tiny shoots you see in the middle of the first picture. I cut them with a knife as close to the ground as possible. The shoots which are to become the flower stems are especially fleshy and big.
Shoots can be found from  March on until June. Later you can eat the unopened flower buds.

Hogweed belongs to the family of the carrots - so you actually have to be careful not to mix hogweed with one of the poisonous ones.

One look-alike is the giant hogweed, heracleum mantegazzianum.
Personally I don´t think it is very difficult to tell them apart...

The Heracleum sphondylium has more rounded leaves. The colour of the leaves are middle to dark green, and matt. The leaves are hairy, so are the stems.
Heracleum mantegazzianum has leaves which more looks like claws and somehow more aggressive. The leaves are bright green and glossy (compare the 2 pics below) - and hairless. The stems has red freckles.

The giant hogweed is known for having a chemical which by touch makes your skin reacting sensitiv to sun - for several years even. Unfortunately the common hogweed does contain the same chemical. Maybe not always in the same amount - so don´t take the older parts or fully developed leaves, some even recommends gloves for picking.

For those of you who wants to compare more deep going - check here.
And, don´t panic like these guys:

Genesis - The Return Of The Giant Hogweed

Heracleum sphondylium

Heracleum mantegazzianum

Hogweed tempura (The recipy is partly from this book):

200 ml beer
12-16 hogweed shoots
sunflower oil, for deep frying
50 g plain flour
50 g cornflour
1/2 tsp salt

Cool the beer.
Rinse the Hogweed shoots, drain and pat dry.
Heat oil in a deep, heavy pan until 180°C.
Mix the flour, cornflour and salt.
Just before the oil has the right temperature, pour the beer into the flour and mix to a batter very quickly and leaving lots of lumps.
Dip a batch of shoots into the batter, shake of the excess and lower them into the hot oil. The cooking time is just around one minute, maybe two.
Drain the Hogweed pieces on kitchen paper.
Eat hot and use any dipping sauce you like!


  1. i will never fear hunger ever again whenever i am walking in the english countryside thanks to this blog

  2. You are definitely right! Only 2 days ago I fried some flower buds - and that in July :)

  3. Mmmm Fermented Hogweed