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© Etienne Branquart, Belgian Biodiversity Platform
© Sandrine Godefroid, VUB
© Etienne Branquart, Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Heracleum mantegazzianum - Giant hogweed

French name:  Berce du caucase
Dutch name: Reuzenbereklauw
Family: Apiaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: Asia
Habitat: terrestrial
Introduction:  agri- and horticulture
ISEIA Score : 11
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1938
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: widespread
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: high
More on invasiveness: The giant hogweed inhabits moist and nutrient rich soils in ruderal places, along roadsides, riverbanks and forest margins, in abandoned or neglected grasslands and in tall-herb communities. It is poorly represented in old successional stages but can occur in open alluvial forests. It usually invades sites with a low management intensity. Seeds are usually dispersed in the vicinity of mother plants except when growing near rivers. In that case, they may be transported over several kilometers.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
freshwater habitats: 3270
grasslands: 643065106520
forest habitats: 91E0*91F0
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: high
Disease transmission: low
Genetic effects: unknown
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: unlikely
Physical alteration: medium
Natural successions: medium
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: The enormous height and leaf area of the giant hogweed enable it to overtop most indigenous herbaceous plant species typical of early stages of natural successions. It may form dense population that absorb up to 80% of the incoming light and outcompete most light demanding species. However, its abundance decreases in old successional stages due to competition with trees. Besides the ecological problems, tall invasive hogweed species also represent a serious health hazard for humans. The plant exudes a clear watery sap, which contains several photosensitizing furanocoumarins. In contact with the human skin and in combination with ultraviolet radiation, these compounds cause severe burnings of the skin.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verloove Filip
Published on:  17 October 2007
Last update:  21 December 2010
AEF (2006)
Cartes provisoires de la distribution de néophytes en Wallonie.
Unpublished document.
CPS-SKEW (2006)
Heracleum mantegazzianum.
From online fact sheets of the Swiss Commission for Wild Plants Conservation.
Hejda, M., Pysek, P. & Jarosik, V. (2009)
Impact of invasive plants on the species richness, diversity and composition of invaded communities.
Journal of Ecology 97: 393–403.
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
Nouvelle fore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines.
Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Muller, S. (2004)
Plantes invasives en France : état des connaissances et propositions d'actions.
Publication scientifique du Museum d'Histoire naturelle, Patrimoines naturels n°62.
Nielsen, C., Ravn, H.P., Nentwig, W., Wade, M. (2005)
The Giant Hogweed best practice manual. Guidelines for the management and control of an invasive weed in Europe.
Forest & Landscape Denmark, Hoersholm, 44 pp.
Pergl, J., Müllerova J., Perglova, I., Herben, T. & Pysek, P. (2011)
The role of long-distance seed dispersal in the local population dynamics of an invasive plant species.
Diversity and Distributions 17: 725–738.
Pysek P., Cock M.J.W., Nentwig W. & Ravn H.P. (2006)
Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).
CAB International.
Thiele J. & Otte A. (2006)
Analysis of habitats and communities invaded by Heracleum mantegazzianum Somm. et Lev. (Giant Hogweed) in Germany.
Phytocoenologia 36 (2): 281-320.
Thiele, J. & Otte, A. (2007)
Impact of Heracleum mantegazzianum on invaded vegetation and human activities.
In: Pysek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, pp 144-156.
Thiele, J. & Otte, A. (2008)
Invasion patterns of Heracleum mantegazzianum in Germany on the regional and landscape scales.
Journal for Nature Conservation 16(2): 61-71.
Thiele, J., Isermann, M., Otte, A. & Kollmann, J. (2010)
Competitive displacement or biotic resistance? Disentangling relationships between community diversity and invasion success of tall herbs and shrubs.
Journal of Vegetation Science 21: 213-220.
Thiele, J., Otte, A. & Eckstein, L. (2007)
Ecological needs, habitat preference and plant communities invaded by Heracleum mantegazzianum.
In: Pysek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, pp 126-143.
Thiele, J., Schuckert, U., Otte, A. (2008)
Cultural landscapes of Germany are patch-corridor-matrix mosaics for an invasive megaforb.
Landscape Ecology 23 (4): 453-465.
Van Landuyt, W., Hoste, I., Vanhecke, L., Van den Bremt, P. Vercruysse, W. & De Beer, D. (2006)
Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest.
Nationale Plantentuin en het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek i.s.m. Flo.Wer vzw.
Vanderhoeven, S., Dassonville, N. & Meerts, P. (2005)
Increased topsoil mineral nutrient concentrations under exotic invasive plants in Belgium.
Pland and Soil 275: 169-179.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.
Wadsworth R.A., Collingham Y.C., Willis S.G., Huntley B. & Hulme P.E. (2000)
Simulating the spread and management of alien riparian weeds: are they out of control?
Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 28-38.
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