In getting our spring landscaping underway, we've run into a bush that a family member is sure that this plant (pictured) is Giant Hogweed.

Click photo for full size Photo of the weed

British Columbia considers this plant to be toxic (if it is indeed that species) and requires a professional to be called in to remediate.

I've tried to find samples online, and there are similarities, but I also don't have enough background knowledge in plants to be sure. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  • Yes the lower leaves don't look like Giant Hogweed to me. Hogweed is an invasive in the UK as well, and I remember warnings to school kids in the 80s. My understanding is that the only 'toxic' problem is that the sap sensitises the skin esp. to sunlight. The end result resembles a chemical burn.
    – winwaed
    Jun 10, 2013 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


It's Myrrhis odorata, aka Sweet Cicely. The entire plant is mildly liquorice-scented. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicely

  • Thanks - it was confirmed as Myrrhis odorata by a landscaper (and he pointed out the liquorice scent too!). Much appreciated!
    – tbonz
    Jun 18, 2013 at 5:55

I'm pretty sure this is Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), an invasive but non-toxic weed, not Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).

Differences between the two include:

  • Leaf structure: Cow Parsley's leaves are fernlike, Giant Hogweed's leaves are much larger and coarser:

    Cow parsley leaves
    enter image description here

    Giant Hogweed leaves:
    enter image description here

  • Height: Cow Parsley grows to about 3' to 4' in height (1m to 1.3m), Giant Hogweed grows to 7' to 15' / 2m to 4.5m, though Wikipedia says it can grow higher.

  • Stems: both plants have hollow stems, but Giant Hogweed has dark reddish spots on its stems. Cow Parsley's stems are green and fluted.

  • Habitat: Giant Hogweed likes a wet environment; you can typically see it in the wild along riverbanks or in marshy ground. Cow Parsley is more of a meadow wildflower.


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