Giant Bear Claw / Hercules Shrub - Poisonous Plants

The Herkulesstaude is also known under the name Riesenbärenklau or Bärenkralle. The Giant Bear Claw comes from the plant family of the umbels and comes originally from the Caucasus. For the first time, the 1985 plant appeared in Europe.

Hercules shrub / Giant hogweed

The Hercules shrub can reach a size of up to three meters. The existing stalk is darkly spotted and has fine hairs that are found on the entire plant.

Giant hogweed
Giant Bear Claw - MabelAmber / Pixabay

The diameter of the stalk is two to ten centimeters, depending on the total size of the plant. The green leaves of the giant hogweed basically have a length of one meter. The relatively large flowers usually have a diameter of 30-50 centimeters. A Hercules shrub can contain up to 80.000 single flowers.

The flowering period is from June to the end of July. The white flowers have a maximum diameter of 2 centimeters and grow wider apart at the top. Since the hairy white leaves look very similar to the bear's animal feet, the plant has been named Bärenklau for this reason.

After the seed shells of the fruit have formed, the plant dies. If the plant does not ripen, it can easily survive for several years. The seeds of the Herkulesstaude are highly germinable for years.

The Hercules shrub does not grow on acid soil. Otherwise, she is very undemanding and needs only a little sun to survive for years.

The giant hogweed contains so-called furocoumarins, which cause skin reactions after skin contact.

Even a short contact with the leaves may be enough to redden the skin considerably. In worse cases, even blisters may form on the skin. These are very painful and easily inflamed and can cause first and second degree burns.

In addition to the skin irritation, and the weeping blisters can also be a result of fever, circulatory problems and sweating. These reactions can take weeks.

When you have come in contact with the plant, you should wash the corresponding skin surfaces thoroughly with water and soap. If skin irritation has occurred, the dermatologist should be consulted immediately so that appropriate treatment can be used.

pointed hogweed

In contrast to the Giant Bear Claw, the Meadow Hogweed is native to Europe. Primarily one finds the Giant Bear Claw on banks and ditches and grows preferably on moist, loose soil. Visually, both plants look very similar.

If the plant is young, there is no danger of poisoning it. Often the leaves are often used as cattle feed. However, animals should not get too much of it, as it can cause skin irritation. Depending on the size of the young plant, the stalk can be eaten raw, or cooked to a compote.