Hogweed is so named because the flowers are said to have a pig-like smell, though I can’t say that I’ve noticed. It has a ton of interesting-sounding common names, of which Bilers, Caddy, Eltrot, Limperscrimps, Cow-weed, Kirk, Chirk and Kek are just a few. Its Latin name, Heracleum sphondylium, is also interesting: Heracleum is a reference to the mythical Greek hero Heracles, who was said to have introduced the medicinal use of the plant to humans, and sphondylium comes from the Greek sphondylo, meaning backbone, and refers to the plant’s segmented stem.
Hogweed is just coming in to flower now, adorning the roadsides, hedgerows and track edges in many of the parts of south Wales that I’ve visited recently.
The statuesque purple-coloured-when-young stalks and those large white flower heads are glorious, indeed, but the very best thing about Hogweed, I think, is the food it provides for all manner of creatures, from flies and hoverflies to ants, bees and wasps, bugs and beetles.