Skip to main content
Log in

Risks of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) range increase in North America

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Biological Invasions Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Giant hogweed is a globally invasive plant that can cause a phototoxic reaction which can cause burns and hyperpigmentation. As a result, the species can have large economic costs and human health impacts where high plant densities and high human densities overlap. The invasion, however, is relatively slow moving, which may lead to an underestimate of potential range and impact. We use life history data to construct Maxent and logistic regression models of potential range in North America. These models suggest that the core areas of high habitat suitability overlap with high human population density, but that most of these areas have already been invaded. There is, however, scope for further spread in areas adjacent to the core, and in novel, less populated, mountainous and maritime locations.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Similar content being viewed by others

Data availability

All data that support the findings of this study are available from GBIF; the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (; the ENVIREM dataset (; WorldClim 2 database (; and Worldpop (

Code availability

Software available from the sources indicated in text.


  • Allouche O, Tsoar A, Kadmon R (2006) Assessing the accuracy of species distribution models: prevalence, kappa and the true skill statistic (TSS). J Appl Ecol 43(6):1223–1232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baasch DM, Tyre AJ, Millspaugh JJ, Hygnstrom SE, Vercauteren KC (2010) An evaluation of three statistical methods used to model resource selection. Ecol Modell 221(4):565–574.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baker BG, Bedford J, Kanitkar S (2017) Keeping pace with the media; giant hogweed burns—a case series and comprehensive review. Burns 43(5):933–938.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bargeron CT, Swearingen J, Douce GK, Moorhead DJ, Rawlins KA (2011) EDDMAPS: a collaborative, easy-to-use, early detection and distribution mapping system. In: McManus KA, Gottschalk KW (eds) Proceedings. 21st US Department of Agriculture interagency research forum on invasive species 2010; 2010 January 12–15; Annapolis, MD. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-75. Newtown Square, PA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. pp 68–68.

  • Bravo MA (2007) Giant hogweed eradication in Pennsylvania and surrounding States. Proceed Ann Meet Northeastern Weed Sci Soc 61:4

    Google Scholar 

  • Buckley LB, Urban MC, Angilletta MJ, Crozier LG, Rissler LJ, Sears MW (2010) Can mechanism inform species’ distribution models? Ecol Letts 13(8):1041–1054.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bzdęga K, Zarychta A, Urbisz A, Szporak-Wasilewska S, Ludynia M, Fojcik B, Tokarska-Guzik B (2021) Geostatistical models with the use of hyperspectral data and seasonal variation–A new approach for evaluating the risk posed by invasive plants. Ecol Indic 121:107204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Caffrey JM (1999) Phenology and long-term control of Heracleum mantegazzianum. In: Caffrey J, Barrett PRF, Ferreira MT, Moreira IS, Murphy KJ, Wade PM (eds) Biology, ecology and management of aquatic plants. Developments in Hydrobiology, Springer, Dordrecht. Vol 147. pp 223–228.

  • Case MA, Beaman JH (1992) Heracleum mantegazzianum (giant cow parsnip): another exotic in the Michigan flora. Mich Bot 31:152–154

    Google Scholar 

  • Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) (2007) Heracleum sosnowskyi (Sosnowskyi's hogweed) datasheet. Accessed 20 September 2021

  • Collingham YC, Wadsworth RA, Huntley B, Hulme PE (2000) Predicting the spatial distribution of non-indigenous riparian weeds: issues of spatial scale and extent. J Appl Ecol 37:13–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • European Commission. (2017) Commission implementing regulation (EU) 2017/1263—of 12 July 2017—updating the list of invasive alien species of Union concern established by implementing regulation (EU) 2016/1141 pursuant to regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament. Official Journal of the European Union 50: 37–9.

  • Dawe NK, White ER (1979) Giant cow parsnip (Heracleum mantegazzianum) on Vancouver Island. British Columbia Can Field-Nat 93(1):82–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Downs JW, Cumpston KL, Feldman MJ (2019) Giant Hogweed phytophotodermatitis. Clin Toxicol 57(9):822–823.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (2006) EPPO data sheet on invasive plants: Heracleum mantegazzianum. In: EPPO activities on plant quarantine. European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, Paris. http:/

  • Fick SE, Hijmans RJ (2017) WorldClim 2: new 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. Int J Climatol 37(12):4302–4315.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • (29 June 2020) GBIF Occurrence Download

  • Greenwell BM, Boehmke BC, Gray B (2020) Variable importance plots-an introduction to the vip package. R J 12(1): 343–366.

  • Grime JP, Mason G, Curtis AV, Rodman J, Band SR (1981) A comparative study of germination characteristics in a local flora. J Ecol 69:1017–1059.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heikkinen RK, Marmion M, Luoto M (2012) Does the interpolation accuracy of species distribution models come at the expense of transferability? Ecography 35(3):276–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S (2000) Applied Logistic Regression. Wiley, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Hüls J, Otte A, Eckstein RL (2007) Population life-cycle and stand structure in dense and open stands of the introduced tall herb Heracleum mantegazzianum. Biol Invasions 9(7):799–811.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hüls J (2005) Populationsbiologische Untersuchung von Heracleum mantegazzianum Somm. & Lev. in Subpopulationen unterschiedlicher Individuendichte. Dissertation, Justus-Liebig Universität.

  • Jahodová Š, Fröberg L, Pyšek P, Geltman D, Trybush S, Karp A (2007) Taxonomy, identification, genetic relationships and distribution of large Heracleum species in Europe. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 1–19

    Google Scholar 

  • Kartesz JT, Meacham CA (1999) Synthesis of the North American flora. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Botanical Garden

    Google Scholar 

  • Kearney M, Porter W (2009) Mechanistic niche modelling: combining physiological and spatial data to predict species’ ranges. Ecol Lett 12(4):334–350.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Knebush K (2018) Yes, there’s giant hogweed in Ohio (in some places): What to know and how to spot it. Accessed 20 September 2021

  • Krinke L, Moravcová L, Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Pergl J, Perglová I (2005) Seed bank of an invasive alien, Heracleum mantegazzianum, and its seasonal dynamics. Seed Sci Res 15(3):239–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhn M (2008) Building predictive models in R using the caret package. J Stat Softw.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lissovsky AA, Dudov SV (2021) Species-distribution modelling: advantages and limitations of its application. 2 MaxEnt Biol Bull Rev 11(3):265–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lloyd CT, Chamberlain H, Kerr D, Yetman G, Pistolesi L, Stevens FR, Gaughan AE, Nieves JJ, Hornby G, MacManus K, Sinha P (2019) Global spatio-temporally harmonised datasets for producing high-resolution gridded population distribution datasets. Big Earth Data 3(2):108–139.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Mainali KP, Warren DL, Dhileepan K, McConnachie A, Strathie L, Hassan G, Karki D, Shrestha BB, Parmesan C (2015) Projecting future expansion of invasive species: comparing and improving methodologies for species distribution modeling. Glob Chang Biol 21(12):4464–4480.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Maslo S (2010) Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum Somier&Levier-a new non-indigenous species in the flora of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Herbologia 11(2):17–24

    Google Scholar 

  • Mędrzycki P, Jarzyna I, Obidziński A, Tokarska-Guzik B, Sotek Z, Pabjanek P, Pytlarczyk A, Sachajdakiewicz I (2017) Simple yet effective: Historical proximity variables improve the species distribution models for invasive giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum s.l.) in Poland. PloS one 12(9):e0184677.

  • Merow C, Smith MJ, Silander JA Jr (2013) A practical guide to MaxEnt for modeling species’ distributions: what it does, and why inputs and settings matter. Ecography 36:1058–1069.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moravcová L, Perglová I, Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Pergl J (2005) Effects of fruit position on fruit mass and seed germination in the alien species Heracleum mantegazzianum (Apiaceae) and the implications for its invasion. Acta Oecol 28:1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morton JK (1975) The giant cow parsnip, Heracleum mantegazzianum Umbelliferae, in Canada. Can Field-Nat 89:183–184

    Google Scholar 

  • Morton JK (1978) Distribution of giant cow parsnip (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in Canada. Can Field-Nat 92:182–185

    Google Scholar 

  • Müllerová J, Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Pergl JAN (2005) Aerial photographs as a tool for assessing the regional dynamics of the invasive plant species Heracleum mantegazzianum. J Appl Ecol 42:1042–1053.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Muscarella R, Galante PJ, Soley-Guardia M, Boria RA, Kass JM, Uriarte M, Anderson RP (2014) ENM eval: An R package for conducting spatially independent evaluations and estimating optimal model complexity for Maxent ecological niche models. Methods Ecol Evol 5(11):1198–1205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nentwig W, Bacher S, Kumschick S, Pyšek P, Vilà M (2018) More than “100 worst” alien species in Europe. Biol Invasions 20(6):1611–1621.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • New Hampshire Department of Agriculture (2018) Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) Fact Sheet. Accessed 20 Sept 2021

  • Nielsen C, Vanaga I, Treikale O, Priekule I (2007) Mechanical and chemical control of Heracleum mantegazzianum and H. sosnowskyi. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK. pp 226–239

  • Nielsen C, Ravn HP, Nentwig W, Wade M (eds) (2005) The giant hogweed best practice manual. Guidelines for the management and control of an invasive weed in Europe. Forest & Landscape Denmark, Hoersholm.

  • Oregon Department of Agriculture (2009) Plant Pest Risk Assessment for Giant Hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum. Revised 2013. Accessed 20 September 2021

  • Page NA, Wall RE, Darbyshire SJ, Mulligan GA (2006) The biology of invasive alien plants in Canada. 4. Heracleum mantegazzianum Sommier & Levier. Can J Plant Sci 86(2):569–589.

  • Pergl J, Perglová I, Pyšek P, Dietz H (2006) Population age structure and reproductive behaviour of the monocarpic perennial Heracleum mantegazzianum (Apiaceae) in its native and invaded distribution ranges. Am J Bot 93:1018–1028.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Perglová I, Pergl J, Pyšek P (2007) Reproductive ecology of Heracleum Mantegazzianum. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 55–73

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Perglová I, Pergl J, Pyšek P (2006) Flowering phenology and reproductive effort of the invasive alien plant Heracleum mantegazzianum. Preslia 78:265–285.

  • Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Schapire RE (2006) Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol Modell 190(3–4):231–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Dudík M, Schapire RE, Blair ME (2017) Opening the black box: An open-source release of Maxent. Ecography 40(7):887–893.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pyšek P (1991) Heracleum mantegazzianum in the Czech Republic: dynamics of spreading from the historical perspective. Folia Geobot Phytotax 26(4):439–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pyšek P, Pyšek A (1995) Invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum in different habitats in the Czech Republic. J Veg Sci 6:711–718.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pyšek P, Müllerová J, Jarošík V (2007) Historical dynamics of Heracleum mantegazzianum invasion at regional and local scales. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 42–54

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Müllerová J, Pergl J, Wild J (2008) Comparing the rate of invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum at continental, regional, and local scales. Divers Distrib 14(2):355–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pyšek P, Kopecky M, Jarošík V, Kotkova P (1998) The role of human density and climate in the spread of Heracleum mantegazzianum in the Central European landscape. Divers Distrib 4(1):9–16.

  • Pyšek P, Pergl J, Jahodová Š, Moravcová L, Müllerová J, Perglová I, Wild J (2010) The hogweed story: invasion of Europe by large Heracleum species. In: Settele J, Peven L, Georgiev T, et al. (eds) Atlas of Biodiversity Risk. Pensoft, Sofia-Moscow. pp 150–151

  • R Core Team (2020) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria.

  • Rajmis S, Thiele J, Marggraf R (2016) A cost-benefit analysis of controlling giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in Germany using a choice experiment approach. NeoBiota 31:19–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reinhardt F, Herle M, Bastiansen F, Streit B (2003) Economic impact of the spread of alien species in Germany. Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt), Berlin, Germany

  • Roberts DR, Bahn V, Ciuti S, Boyce MS, Elith J, Guillera-Arroita G, Hauenstein S, Lahoz-Monfort JJ, Schröder B, Thuiller W, Warton DI (2017) Cross-validation strategies for data with temporal, spatial, hierarchical, or phylogenetic structure. Ecography 40(8):913–929.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rödder D, Lötters S (2010) Explanative power of variables used in species distribution modelling: an issue of general model transferability or niche shift in the invasive Greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris). Naturwissenschaften 97(9):781–796.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rzymski P, Klimaszyk P, Poniedziałek B (2015) Invasive giant hogweeds in Poland: Risk of burns among forestry workers and plant distribution. Burns 41(8):1816–1822.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sams, T. (2019) Plant that causes burns and blindness spotted in Indiana Accessed 20 September 2021

  • Srivastava V, Roe AD, Keena MA, Hamelin RC, Griess VC (2020) Oh the places they’ll go: improving species distribution modelling for invasive forest pests in an uncertain world. Biol Invasions 23:297–349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thiele J, Otte A (2007) Impact of Heracleum mantegazzianum on invaded vegetation and human activities. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 144–156

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Thiele J, Otte A, Eckstein RL (2007) Ecological needs, habitat preferences and plant communities invaded by Heracleum mantegazzianum. In: Pyšek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP (eds) Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 126–143

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Tiley GE, Dodd FS, Wade PM (1996) Heracleum mantegazzianum Sommier & Levier. J Ecol 84(2):297–319.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tiley GE, Philp B (1994) Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed) and its control in Scotland. In: de Waal LC, Child L, Wade PM, Brock JH (eds) Ecology and Management of Invasive Riverside Plants. Wiley & Sons, Chichester. pp 101,109

  • Title PO, Bemmels JB (2018) ENVIREM: an expanded set of bioclimatic and topographic variables increases flexibility and improves performance of ecological niche modeling. Ecography 41(2):291–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Education Center (2018) Two invasive plants to look out for: Tree of heaven and giant hogweed. Accessed 20 Sept 2021

  • USDA (2020) The PLANTS Database Accessed 27 Dec 2020

  • Wade M, Darby EJ, Courtney AD, Caffrey JM (1997) Heracleum mantegazzianum: a problem for river managers in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. In: Brock JH, Wade M, Pyšek P, Green D (eds) Plant invasions: studies from North America and Europe. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, pp 139–152

    Google Scholar 

  • Warren DL, Seifert SN (2011) Ecological niche modeling in Maxent: the importance of model complexity and the performance of model selection criteria. Ecol Appl 21(2):335–342.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Williamson M, Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Prach K (2005) On the rates and patterns of spread of alien plants in the Czech Republic, Britain, and Ireland. Ecoscience 12(3):424–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Willis SG, Hulme PE (2002) Does temperature limit the invasion of Impatiens glandulifera and Heracleum mantegazzianum in the UK? Funct Ecol 16(4):530–539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wittenberg R, Cock MJ (2005) Best practices for the prevention and management of invasive alien species. In: Mooney H, Mack R, McNeeley J, Neville L, Schei PJ, Waage J (eds) Invasive alien species: A new synthesis. A project of Scope, the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, with partners CAB International and the World Conservation Fund. Island Press, Washington. pp 209–232

Download references


NSERC discovery grant, and UWaterloo RIF to KC.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to K. Cuddington.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declared that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 2822 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cuddington, K., Sobek-Swant, S., Drake, J. et al. Risks of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) range increase in North America. Biol Invasions 24, 299–314 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: