Heracleum sphondylium, commonly known as hogweed, common hogweed or cow parsnip, is a herbaceous perennial or biennial plant, in the umbelliferous family Apiaceae that includes fennel, cow parsley, ground elder and giant hogweed. It is native to Europe and Asia.
Drawing of Heracleum sphondylium, showing the heart-shaped schizocarp (fruit)
The flowers are pollinated by insects, such as beetles, wasps and especially flies. The small fruits are schizocarps, flattened and winged, elliptical to rounded and glabrous, up to 1 cm long. The seed dispersal is by wind (anemochory).
The plant is common in grassland, herb-rich meadows, in hedges, meadows and woods, road verges and railway embankments, waste and cultivated ground. It prefers moist, nitrogen-rich soils. It can occur in mountain areas up to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) of altitude.