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a genus of plants of the family Umbelliferae. They are large biennial or perennial herbs with large pinnate, sometimes simple, leaves. The flowers are in compound umbels, with white or yellow green petals. The fruits are slightly compressed from the back and range from ovate to almost round. There are more than 70 species, mainly in the temperate regions of the eastern hemisphere: there is only one species in North America.
In the USSR there are approximately 40 species, and the majority of them are found in the Caucasus, mainly in the subalpine mountain belt. In the European part of the USSR, in Kazakhstan, and in western Siberia, the Siberian cow-parsnip (Heracleum sibiricum) is widely distributed. The leaves, stems, and young shoots of many species of Heracleum are edible raw, salted, or marinated; they are used as seasoning for soups. The leaves and fruits of Heracleum are rich in volatile oils; touching the plant of some species can result in skin irritation or burn. The species H. pubescens and H. mantegazzianum, among others, are decorative. The most important species is H. sosnowskyi, a cultivated high-yield fodder (mainly silo) plant. The young plants of hogweed (H. sphondylium) are useful as cattle fodder.
REFERENCEMandenova, I. P. Kavkazskie vidy roda Heracleum. Tbilisi, 1950.
T. B. VERNANDER