Sosnowsky’s hogweed is an example how expansive and dangerous alien species can be. It was introduced to Poland as a fodder plant in the mid-20th century, but its cultivation has not brought desired results. Moreover, many cases of severe burns have been reported in animals and humans after having contact with Sosnowsky’s hogweed.


Biological characteristics determining the invasiveness of this species include its size (in Poland it can grow up to 4 meters), fast germination, growth and production of numerous seeds (one plant may produce about 30,000 seeds annually). For this reason, Sosnowsky’s hogweed wins a competitive fight for habitat resources. It continues to fill in the niches of our native species consequently, and eventually degrades valuable natural habitats. It is a close relative to the giant hogweed which is more common in Europe.


Sosnowsky’s hogweed contains furanocoumarins in the stem and leaf tissues, which cause human and animal skin become oversensitive to UV rays. As a result the skin is covered with burns, blisters and slow-healing wounds and even scars. Symptoms appear after several dozen of minutes since having the contact with Sosnowsky’s hogweed (sometimes up to 48 hours).


The number of Sosnowsky’s hogweed stands in Poland increases from year to year. This plant has great regeneration and reproduction abilities. It is resistant to many herbicides. Moreover, it produces a great number of seeds which are able to sprout for two or more years! All of this makes combating this species very difficult, and it requires systematic actions to be carried out for several growing seasons. Very goods effects of eradicating single plant or small populations are obtained by cutting a root with a sharp spade.


How to deal with Sosnowsky’s hogweed?


  1. Specialists recommend avoiding areas with the high concentration of Sosnowsky’s hogweeds. However, if we want to get rid of a single plant from our garden or plot by ourselves, than we should take special care, wear proper clothes and protect eyes and the respiratory tract.
  2. You are invited to read a publication entitled: „Wytyczne dotyczące zwalczania barszczu Sosnowskiego (Heracleum sosnowskyi) i barszczu Mantegazziego (Heracleum mantegazzianum) na terenie Polski”. You will find there an overview of Sosnowsky’s hogweed controlling methods and funding opportunities to finance the eradication of this species. There is also information on biology and its impact on the natural environment and the human and animal health.
  3. A map with giant hogweed stands in Poland is published on a website: ; e.g. a map with giant hogweed’s areas in Poland. You can check there where the plant grows and report yourself new stands of giant hogweed.