The Common Hogweed
Also known as Heracleum sphondylium it grows in the temperate northern hemisphere and it can be found almost anywhere but commonly grows along rivers. Those familiar with the plant call it a wild vegetable, mainly because of its unique flavour when cooked.
I recommend reading the “Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods” by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman.
The book contains up to 400 color photos with detailed information of more than 200 edible plant species across North America. The authors included facts on the plant habitats and physical properties.
Most cooks use common Hogweed as an ingredient to add flavor or aroma when preparing cuisines. Below are some meals that have Hogweed in the ingredients.
– Golpar (Heracleum persicum) commonly known as Persian hogweed. The seeds are used in Persian cooking.
– Hogweed and Wild Garlic Soup
– Spiced Hogweed Seed Biscuits
– Hogweed Tempura
– Ramson and Hogweed Crostini among others
Medicinal and Culinery
In the olden days, the herbalists would boil the seeds in oil and use the concoction to treat rash and running sores. According to Dr. Arati Varma (BMA), the Punarnava plant also known as Hogweed can be used as anthelmintic and anti-inflammatory.
You would be ill-advised to harvest this plant in strong sunlight. As the leaves grows it develops a sap (watery fluid of plants) which can harm the skin. There are cases of children getting lime disease also known as phytophotodermititus while playing outside.
Makes me wonder how the herbalist that discovered this plant handled it with all its harmful chemicals.
If you are not careful you could easily confuse this plant with the Giant Hogweed ((Heracleum mantegazzianum). Just recently, a teenager from Virginia suffered third-degree burns across his face and arm while on a landscaping job. Without proper medical care the victim would be scarred for life.
According to Dermatologist Stephanie Munn, the burns and blisters can be treated with strong topical steroid.
There are other ways of treating the burns and blisters, like washing the affected area thoroughly with soap and cold water and keeping the exposed area away from sunlight for 48 hours.
If handled carefully, the common hogweed is beneficial.