Common hogweed is one of my favourite wild plants to forage. It’s tasty and abundant. You do have to be careful when picking common hogweed as you could get it confused with giant hogweed which is toxic.
Giant hogweed and common hogweed have quite different stems, so this is one of the easiest ways to tell them apart. Giant hogweed has purple blotches on the stem.
The stems of common hogweed do not have purple blotches.
Both common and giant hogweed can cause photosensitive blisters if your skin comes into contact with the sap. For this reason I recommend always harvesting hogweed whilst wearing gloves.
You should also always cook Common hogweed rather than eating the plant raw. It is in the same family as celery and can cause allergic reactions in some people, so make sure you only eat a tiny amount to begin with, and avoid it completely if you are allergic to celery.
In the spring the fresh young shoots of hogweed are delicious fried in butter. I like to eat the shoots fried up with eggs at breakfast.
In July they produce a second tasty crop of the unopened flower buds which can be cooked like broccoli. This is what I am picking at the moment.
You can cook them like broccoli florets. Remove the papery sheaths from the buds and then steam or boil for just a few minutes. Serve with lots of butter, salt and pepper. The flavour is fragrant, unusual and delicious!
Later, in August you can also harvest the seeds.
They can be used in recipes in place of cardamom.
Common hogweed is an extremely nutritious plant with a unique and delicious flavour. As its name suggests it is very common throughout the UK, growing in most hedgerows. It is high in protein (relatively for a plant), vitamins and minerals.
Do remember the points I made earlier:
- Be 100% sure of your identification.
- Wear gloves when picking / harvesting the plant.
- Always cook Common hogweed, never eat the plant raw.
- Avoid if you are allergic to celery.
However, if you have covered off the above – it is well worth foraging this delicious and nutritious wild plant!
Let me know in the comments below if you have ever picked and eaten hogweed.
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