The giant hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum) is the robust plant native to the Caucasus region. It can grow up to the height of 5 meters, even though 2-4m high specimens are much more common. It is distinguished by huge leaves and by a thick stem branches into clusters of small white flowers.

Hogweed was brought to the Europe as a decorative plant in 19th century and the locals have been trying to get rid of it even since. In the most of the world, it is considered to be an invasive species as it spreads very fast and often suppresses local vegetation. But that’s not the reason why hogweed made it to the list of Georgian hazards.

The greatest danger of hogweed lies in it phototoxic sap. If your skin gets in touch with it and is subsequently exposed to sunlight, you can be severely burned. And I mean really severely - I will not put it here, but if you are curious, just google “hogweed burns” (graphic content!).

dont touch the hogweed

Remember - don't touch the hogweed!

And because I want just to warn you, not to scare you - if you are just walking through fields of hogweeds, touching leaves and flowers, you should be fine. We crossed many and never got burned. But you really shouldn’t try to break it’s stem or cut it.

If you still get exposed to the plant sap, wash the affected spot immediately and cover it from the sunlight.

Giant hogweed

Giant hogweed

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