Column: Weedy words from the CCCIPC on invasive giant hogweed

Invasive plants, also known as noxious weeds are non-native plants that have been introduced to B.C.

Invasive plants, also known as noxious weeds are non-native plants that have been introduced to B.C. Without their natural predators that help keep them in check in their native habitats, these alien plants grow very aggressively and pose a threat to our natural ecosystems, biodiversity, humans, wildlife and the economy. One such invasive plant is Giant Hogweed, and it is often mistaken for a local native plant called Cow Parsnip.

The two plants do look very similar to each other, but only Giant Hogweed is classified as a provincially noxious invasive weed and has phototoxic stems and leaves containing a poisonous sap that makes skin sensitive to light often leading to serious burns and painful blisters (note: Cow Parsnip can also irritate the skin but to a much lesser extent). Protective clothing should be worn when handling either plant and wash any skin that has been exposed with soap and water then keep skin covered.

So how can you tell the difference between the two and what should you do?

Height: Cow Parsnip fully grown tops around seven feet, while Giant Hogweed can reach heights of 14 feet or taller.

Stems: Cow Parsnip stems are green and ridged with fine white hairs. Giant Hogweed stems are green but with purple/reddish splotches and much coarser white hairs.

Leaves: Cow Parsnip leaves are similar to that of a maple leaf, while Giant Hogweed leaves have visible knife-like serrated edges (see pictures).

Flower Cluster: Cow Parsnip has up to 30 rays per flower cluster, while Giant Hogweed can almost double that and have 50 rays. Rays, are the stems of the flowers protruding from the main stem of the plant (see diagram).

For more information on identification, removal and disposal of Giant Hogweed, please view or download the National Factsheet with full colour pictures. Available online, find a link to this factsheet at or email for a copy.

To report invasive plants in the CRD please call 1-800-665-1636, in BC to 1-888-WEEDS-BC or online to (or download the free phone app). For more information on other  invasive plants in this region please visit the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee website at or call 250-855-WEED (9333).

The CCCIPC gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.

Jessica Knodel is the CCCIPC co-ordinator.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Cynthia English (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cynthia English

Cynthia English, 30, has been working in the logging industry for several years

Kristy Alphonse Palmantier was crowned Williams Lake Stampede Queen in 1981. She has four children (Jody Palmantier, Davee Palmantier, Julie Doerfling and Sky Moses) as well as four grandchildren including Ace, Chance, Xidi and Ryder who was born last month. Alphonse Palmantier lives in Sugar Cane and in her spare time loves to be out on the land and hunt and fish with her partner CraigHilker. (Kristy Palmantier Facebook photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Roots run deep for Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune

Spreading positivity through music is one way Cleary Manning tries to make the community better

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read