Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Heracleum persicum
(Persian hogweed)

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Datasheet

Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 29 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Heracleum persicum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Persian hogweed
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Heracleum persicum is a perennial herb, commonly known as Persian hogweed or golpar, with an anise-like smell. Native to Iran, Iraq and Turkey, it mostly grows in disturbed and semi-natural habitats. Unlike oth...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); mature plant growing on a roadside. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); mature plant growing on a roadside. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); mature plant growing on a roadside. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
HabitHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); mature plant growing on a roadside. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); a single umbel at anthesis. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
TitleUmbel at anthesis
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); a single umbel at anthesis. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); a single umbel at anthesis. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.
Umbel at anthesisHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); a single umbel at anthesis. Nr Tromsø, Norway. July, 2014.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); temporal variation in the flowering phenology between primary and secondary umbels. Note that the primary umbels cosists of mature fruits (mericarps) whereas secondary umbels are at anthesis. Norway. August, 2013.
TitleFlowering phenology
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); temporal variation in the flowering phenology between primary and secondary umbels. Note that the primary umbels cosists of mature fruits (mericarps) whereas secondary umbels are at anthesis. Norway. August, 2013.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); temporal variation in the flowering phenology between primary and secondary umbels. Note that the primary umbels cosists of mature fruits (mericarps) whereas secondary umbels are at anthesis. Norway. August, 2013.
Flowering phenologyHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); temporal variation in the flowering phenology between primary and secondary umbels. Note that the primary umbels cosists of mature fruits (mericarps) whereas secondary umbels are at anthesis. Norway. August, 2013.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); development of fruits in primary umbels. Secondary umbels withered without any seed production. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
TitleFruits in primary umbels
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); development of fruits in primary umbels. Secondary umbels withered without any seed production. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); development of fruits in primary umbels. Secondary umbels withered without any seed production. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
Fruits in primary umbelsHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); development of fruits in primary umbels. Secondary umbels withered without any seed production. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dry fruits at the end of August. Nearly half of the fruits are already dispersed. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
TitleDry fruits
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dry fruits at the end of August. Nearly half of the fruits are already dispersed. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dry fruits at the end of August. Nearly half of the fruits are already dispersed. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.
Dry fruitsHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dry fruits at the end of August. Nearly half of the fruits are already dispersed. Nr Nordkjosbotn, Norway. August, 2013.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
TitleSeed morphology
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
Seed morphologyHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); close-view of seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
TitleSeed morphology
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); close-view of seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); close-view of seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.
Seed morphologyHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); close-view of seed morphology, herbarium specimen. Norway. June, 2012.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seedlings growing along roadsides. Tromsø, Norway. May, 2014.
TitleSeedlings
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seedlings growing along roadsides. Tromsø, Norway. May, 2014.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seedlings growing along roadsides. Tromsø, Norway. May, 2014.
SeedlingsHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); seedlings growing along roadsides. Tromsø, Norway. May, 2014.©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dense stand. Tromsø, Norway. June, 2012.
TitleDense stand
CaptionHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dense stand. Tromsø, Norway. June, 2012.
Copyright©Dilli P. Rijal
Heracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dense stand. Tromsø, Norway. June, 2012.
Dense standHeracleum persicum (Persian hogweed); dense stand. Tromsø, Norway. June, 2012.©Dilli P. Rijal

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Heracleum persicum Desf. ex Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall.

Preferred Common Name

  • Persian hogweed

Other Scientific Names

  • Heracleum glabrescens Boiss. & Hohen.
  • Heracleum laciniatum Desf.

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: bolševník perský
  • Hungary: perzsa medvetalp
  • Iran: golpar
  • Iraq: golpar
  • Norway: Tromsøpalme

Summary of Invasiveness

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Heracleum persicum is a perennial herb, commonly known as Persian hogweed or golpar, with an anise-like smell. Native to Iran, Iraq and Turkey, it mostly grows in disturbed and semi-natural habitats. Unlike other giant hogweeds, it can propagate vegetatively when sexual reproduction fails. Due to its large size (1.5-3 m in height) and vigorous growth, it can potentially change the vegetation composition of an ecosystem. The plant sap of H. persicum can permanently damage skin if exposed to sunlight. It is considered to be a highly invasive pest, especially since it has colonized Nordic countries within less than 180 years. Introduced to northern Norway via England as an ornamental as early as 1836, it now extensively grows throughout Norway where it is blacklisted under a ‘very high-risk’ category. It is also regulated as quarantine pest in Europe.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Apiales
  •                         Family: Apiaceae
  •                             Genus: Heracleum
  •                                 Species: Heracleum persicum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Taxonomy of Heracleum persicum Desf. ex Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall. remained controversial in Europe until recently. Various names were in effect for it, including H. panaces L., H. giganteum Fisch. ex Horn., and H. laciniatum Horn. in Scandinavia (Alm, 2013). Based on the mismatch of shape and length of fruit vittae between Norwegian and Turkish herbarium specimens, Øvstedal (1987) rejected H. persicum as a proper name for the Norwegian plant. The Norwegian plant was also described as H. tromsoensis (Elven, 2005). H. persicum appeared as a valid name for the European plant when Jahodová et al. (2007) found similarity between Iranian and European populations, as reflected by molecular analysis. Most recently, Fröberg (2010) found similarity between Iranian and Norwegian herbarium specimens and described Nordic plants as H. persicum.

Introduced invasive species of Heracleum are commonly known as giant hogweeds in Europe (Nielsen et al., 2005). Two species of Heracleum, H. mantegazzianum and H. sosnowskyi, are morphologically (Nielsen et al., 2005; EPPO, 2009; Fröberg, 2010) and genetically (Jahodová et al., 2007; Maras, 2008) closer to H.persicum. The distribution of H. sosnowskyi is more or less restricted to the Baltic region in its introduced range. However, H. mantegazzianum is widely distributed in Europe and its range may overlap with H. persicum, especially in southern Norway. Hybridization between H. persicum and H. mantegazzianum is often reported since intermediates share characteristics of H. persicum and H. mantegazzianum (Elven, 2005; Fröberg, 2010). However, northern Norwegian hybrids are genetically closer to H. persicum and H. sphondylium than H. mantegazzianum (Rijal et al., 2014). This indicates that hybridization is much frequent between H. persicum and H. sphondylium in the absence of H. mantegazzianum.

Its local name of ‘Tromsøpalme’ in northern Norway means ‘palm of Tromsø’, with Tromsø being the name of a city in northern Norway. It has become abundant there since its introduction.

Description

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H. persicum is a perennial herb that is generally 1.5-2.5 m tall and sometimes grows up to 3.0 m. It has an anise-like smell (especially leaves and seeds). Stems 1-5, 1.5-4.0 cm thick at base, hollow, sparsely to densely hairy, generally continuously purplish at base and sometimes with small purplish spots upwards. Leaves usually with purplish sheath; petiole 55-100 cm; blade 1-pinnate, 43-120 × 34-80 cm, densely hairy lower side, glabrous upper side. Leaflets 2-4 pairs. Apical leaflet usually 2-pannatifid, with 2-4 pairs of primary lobes; petiolule 7-11 cm; blade 21-42 × 19-44 cm; base truncate to deeply cordate; margin usually obtusely serrate. Umbels nearly convex, 30-50 cm wide; rays straight or bent inwards, 8-22 cm. Bracts 10-18, persistent. Umbellules 35-84; pedicels 1.3-3.5 cm, densely hairy. Bractlets 10-15, persistent, 3-10 × 0.2-0.8 mm, distinctly hairy. Flowers 20-80 per umbellule; sepals 0.2-1.0 mm; petals 6.5-14 × 8.5-15 mm, bifid, with 3-5 mm wide lateral lobes and distinct veins; filaments 3-4.5 mm; anthers 0.9-1.3 mm; stamens sometimes reduced and sterile. Fruits (mericarps) 8-14 × 6.0-9.5 × 0.5-1.0 mm; wings 0.6-1.1 mm wide; dorsal vittae slightly expanded at the apex; stylopodium flattened, 1.7-2.8 mm wide; style 1.3-3.0 mm, directed ± outwards.

Adapted from Often and Graff (1994), Nielsen et al. (2005) and Fröberg (2010).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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H. persicum is native to the Asian countries of Iran, Iraq and Turkey (Fröberg, 2010). It has been introduced widely across Europe, including the Nordic countries of Northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) where it is invasive (Jahodová et al., 2007; Fröberg, 2010). It has also been reported from UK, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary (Nielsen et al., 2005; Jahodová et al., 2007; DAISIE, 2015; EPPO, 2015; NOBANIS, 2015).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IranPresentNativeRechinger, 1987; Jahodová et al., 2007; Fröberg, 2010; Ahmad, 2013; Rijal et al., 2014; GBIF, 2015
IraqPresentNativeFröberg, 2010; Ahmad, 2013
TurkeyPresentNativeFröberg, 2010; Ahmad, 2013; GBIF, 2015

Europe

Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
DenmarkPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Invasive Jahodová et al., 2007
EstoniaPresentIntroducedFröberg, 2010; EPPO, 2015; NOBANIS, 2015
FinlandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Nielsen et al., 2005; Jahodová et al., 2007; Fröberg, 2010; GBIF, 2015; NOBANIS, 2015
HungaryPresentIntroducedNielsen et al., 2005; DAISIE, 2015
IcelandPresentIntroduced Invasive Jahodová et al., 2007; Fröberg, 2010; Wasowicz et al., 2013; NOBANIS, 2015
NorwayWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Alm and Jensen, 1993; Nielsen et al., 2005; Jahodová et al., 2007; Fröberg, 2010; Alm, 2013; Rijal et al., 2014
SwedenWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Nielsen et al., 2005; Fröberg, 2010; Rijal et al., 2014; NOBANIS, 2015
UKLocalisedIntroduced Not invasive Jahodová et al., 2007; Rijal et al., 2014Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens, London

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first European record of the species comes from the seed list of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK, from 1829, reported to have been introduced from Iran, probably as an ornamental (Nielsen et al., 2005; Jahodová et al., 2007; Rijal et al., 2014). Its localized occurrence in Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens in the UK (Jahodová et al., 2007) indicates that someone might have brought this plant to please the Royal Family.

Historical records indicate that seeds were planted in northern Norway as early as 1836 by English horticulturalists (Nielsen et al., 2005; Jahodová et al., 2007; Alm, 2013). Due to such history and extensive growth of the species in Norway, it is assumed that other Scandinavian populations originated from Norway. H. persicum colonized Nordic countries within less than 180 years (Alm, 2013).

A copper factory, located in northern Norway and built in the 17th century, recruited many Finnish workers. It was located where seeds of H. persicum had been distributed first (Alm and Jensen, 1993). Thus, it is likely that seeds of H. persicum might have been transported to Finland by those workers. On the other hand, if H. persicum was already established in Finland, Finnish workers might have introduced seeds of H. persicum to Norway.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Norway England and Wales 1836 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No Alm (2013); Jahodová et al. (2007); Jahodová et al. (2007b); Nielsen et al. (2005) Deliberately introduced as garden plant but not really as a commercial horticultural plant
UK Iran 1829 Botanical gardens and zoos (pathway cause) No No Jahodová et al. (2007); Jahodová et al. (2007b); Nielsen et al. (2005); Rijal et al. (2014) Received as seed. At least present in Kensington Garden, London

Risk of Introduction

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H. persicum was deliberately introduced as an ornamental plant, but this is less likely to happen now that its negative effects are widely known.

Transportation and hydrochory may still spread H. persicum into new locations since H. persicum predominantly grows along roadsides and seashores. Cross-border public and private transport is common in Europe and particularly frequent in Scandinavia resulting in a high probability of accidental introduction.

H. persicum has been recommended for regulation as a quarantine pest in Europe (EPPO, 2015). 

Habitat

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H. persicum generally occupies the same habitats as H. mantegazzium. These are disturbed and semi-natural habitats, such as roadsides and railroads, as well as meadows, grasslands, disused agricultural land, ruderal areas, coastal beaches and along streams and rivers. It can be found in most of the open areas around cities in Norway and Finland, in gardens and parks (EPPO, 2009; Klingenstein, 2006). H. persicum is shade intolerant in general, however recent expansion in semi-natural habitats indicates its adaptation under tree canopy. It is becoming increasingly found along forest edges in Norway and has been reported as growing in birch forest (Fremstad and Elven, 2006). H. persicum predominantly occupy roadsides and seashores at least in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The details regarding variation in habitat among countries are lacking.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of H. persicum is 2n=22 and n=11(IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2015). Fröberg (2010) noticed deviating morphotypes of H. persicum from Finland and Sweden. He observed densely hairy lower leaf surfaces; similar to H. mantegazzianum, the rays and pedicels lack hairs and have papillae; and the ovaries/fruits have shorter hairs than H. persicum. Among introduced populations, Danish and Norwegian populations are quite distinct from each other whereas English, Finnish, Latvian and Swedish populations share genotypes with Danish and Norwegian populations (Jahodová et al., 2007). H. persicum generally hybridizes with H. sphondylium in northern Norway (Rijal et al., 2014). It has also been reported to hybridize with H. mantegazzianum (Fröberg, 2010).

Reproductive Biology

H. persicum is polycarpic. Unlike other invasive giant hogweeds, it repeatedly flowers and can survive via vegetative reproduction even if sexual reproduction fails. In northern Norway, the plant starts growing when snow is melted, i.e., approximately at the end of March. Average flowering age of the plant has not been quantified yet but may be approximately similar to H. mantegazzianum, i.e. 2-5 years (Perglová et al., 2007).

H. persicum is possibly protandrous since protandry is common in the Apiaceae family and it has been reported for H. mantegazzianum (Perglová et al. 2006; Perglová et al. 2007), a species often confused with H. persicum. The temporal variation in flower maturation is visible between primary and secondary umbels of H. persicum (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, unpublished data). It may be self-compatible but cross-pollination appears equally likely if H. persicum is protandrous.

Only primary umbels produce fertile seeds whereas secondary and tertiary umbels act as pollen donor and are abortive (Often and Graff, 1994). Seed production depends on the size of the inflorescence. Each plant has 40-50 umbellules and 20-40 fruits per umbellule. Each fruit is composed of two mericarps (seeds) and, based on a conservative estimation a single plant can produce, 1600-4000 seeds (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, personal observation, 2015). Some seeds collected in early November 2012 were used in a seed germination experiment; seed germination rate was 2.1 % for the northern Norwegian population (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, unpublished data). A higher rate of seed germination is expected if seed collection is done right after the seeds are mature, i.e., mid to late September. Seed reproduction also varies in H. persicum, for example, it is less common in southern than in northern Norway (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, personal observation, 2015). In any case, seed reproduction is not as vigorous as H. mantegazzianum (Fröberg, 2010).

Physiology and Phenology

Clonality in H. persicum seems an adaptive feature to survive the extreme weather of northern Norway. Such a feature is absent in other giant hogweeds. As a consequence, other giant hogweeds could not grow in most of the places where H. persicum is growing. Seeds of H. persicum remain dormant for a longer period in its native than introduced range (M Falahati-Anbaran, University of Guilan, Iran, personal communication, 2015). Salehani et al. (2013) found a lower germination rate and slower germination speed on seeds originating from higher than lower elevations in native range and found no germination if seeds are not stratified. The extensive growth of H. persicum in northern Norway might be benefitted by shorter seed dormancy as germination does not require stratification. Otherwise, H. persicum would not survive in higher latitudes with shorter growing season.

H. persicum flowers earlier in its southern range (warmer areas) than in its northern range (colder areas), from early/mid-July to late August on average (Often and Graff, 1994; Nielsen et al. 2005).

Environmental Requirements

Clonality in H. persicum seems an adaptive feature to survive the extreme weather of northern Norway. Such a feature is absent in other giant hogweeds. As a consequence, other giant hogweeds could not grow in most of the places where H. persicum is growing. Seeds of H. persicum remain dormant for a longer period in its native than introduced range (M Falahati-Anbaran, University of Guilan, Iran, personal communication, 2015). Salehani et al. (2013) found a lower germination rate and slower germination speed on seeds originating from higher than lower elevations in native range and found no germination if seeds are not stratified. The extensive growth of H. persicum in northern Norway might be benefitted by shorter seed dormancy as germination does not require stratification. Otherwise, H. persicum would not survive in higher latitudes with shorter growing season.

H. persicum flowers earlier in its southern range (warmer areas) than in its northern range (colder areas), from early/mid-July to late August on average (Often and Graff, 1994; Nielsen et al. 2005).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
51.4-983-7

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Heterodera persica Parasite to species

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A new nematode of order Tylinchida and family Heteroderidae, Heterodera persica, has been reported to parasitize on H. persicum in its native range (Maafi et al., 2006). However, it has not been used yet to control H. persicum.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Intentional Introduction

The species was first deliberately introduced as an ornamental from its native range. Its localized occurrence in Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens in the UK (Jahodová et al., 2007) indicates that someone might have brought this plant for the Royal Family.

Accidental Introduction

The occurrence of H. persicum along roadsides creates a high chance of transportation across borders. Accidental transportation caused by the movement of soldiers during previous wars in Scandinavia may have occurred and factory workers may have spread seed between Norway and Finland (see History of Introduction/Spread section).

Natural Dispersal

Regional populations of H. persicum are morphologically and genetically similar to each other in its introduced range (Jahodová et al., 2007; EPPO, 2009; Fröberg, 2010). This is only possible if a certain level of gene flow occurs among populations. Furthermore, it has been found on beaches, including those of unpopulated islands (Alm & Jensen, 1993; EPPO, 2006). Thus, hydrochory seems more plausible for long distance dispersal. Windblown seeds might be responsible for dispersal at a very local scale.

Pathway Causes

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Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Floating vegetation and debris Yes Yes
Germplasm Yes
Land vehicles Yes Yes
Water Yes Yes
Wind Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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Quantitative estimates regarding the economic impact of H. persicum in its introduced range have not been reported so far. However, there is always a cost associated with management of H. persicum. As an example, Tromsø municipality in Norway is attempting to regulate and eradicate H. persicum from roadsides and city areas by mechanical and chemical control. Tromsø University is managing H. persicum in its territory by mowing 2-3 times during growing season (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, personal observation, 2015).

Dense stands of species around recreational areas (e.g. parks and beaches) reduces the aesthetic beauty and may affect fishing and tourism (Fremstad and Elven, 2006).

Environmental Impact

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H. persicum is blacklisted in Norway under the ‘high-risk’ category (Gederaas et al., 2012) and is categorized under ‘potentially harmful alien land plant’ in Finland (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland, 2012).

Impact on Habitats

H. persicum generally occupies most of the open areas around cities, along roads, on coasts as well as forest clearings. It is shade intolerant in general. However, recent expansion in semi-natural habitats indicates its adaptation under tree canopy. It develops dense stands and reduces productivity of co-occurring residents via shading effect and allelopathy (Myrås and Junttila, 1981). It may alter soil composition by repeated decomposition of its own biomass, thereby making soil hostile for other resident vegetation. In the long run, it may monopolize resources and can form monocultures, leading to soil erosion (Fremstad and Elven, 2006).

Impact on Biodiversity

H. persicum quickly develops dense stands and shades out native species. The allelopathic chemicals it produces do not allow other species to germinate and grow. For example, H. persicum inhibits the germination and growth of Alchemilla subcrenata, Phleum pratense and Poa pratensis (Myrås, 1978). Thus, dominance of H. persicum could displace other species. This leads to the reduced density of native vegetation. In the long run, residential species may be locally extinct from the areas where H. persicum grows.

H. persicum hybridizes with native H. sphondylium and produces fertile and vigorous hybrids (Rijal et al., 2014). H. sphondylium is almost rare in northern Norway where hybridization with H. persicum is common. Most of the suitable habitats for native species are occupied by vigorous hybrids. Thus, there is a risk of local extinction of H. sphondylium due to hybridization, especially in northern Norway (T Alm, University of Tromsø, Norway, personal communication, 2015). 

Social Impact

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H. persicum gained its local name ‘Tromsøpalme’ from northern Norway, which means ‘palm of Tromsø’. It is more or less emblematic of the city and included in a variety of traditions. Children play in it and with it but it is not so popular with adults (Alm, 2013). Health hazards associated with H. persicum is of major public concern. The plant sap of H. persicum is phototoxic and can cause a skin allergy. When there is severe sap contact and exposure to intense solar radiation, it can cause permanent damage of the skin. Even in moderate level of contact, blisters may appear in the skin and scars remains for years. In some cases, the deep wound may reappear after a long time (Fremstad and Elven, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Social benefit

In its native range, H. persicum has been reported to have several medicinal values (Hemati et al., 2010; Ahvazi et al., 2012). In Iran, seed powder is used as a spice and flavoring agent as well as antiseptic, digestive, carminative and analgesic in the Iranian traditional medicine (Radjabian et al., 2013). Several chemical constituents of medicinal values have been identified from seeds or leaves of H. persicum from Iran (Firuzi et al., 2010; Radjabian et al., 2013).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Human food and beverage

  • Spices and culinary herbs

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Detection and Inspection

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Look for the diagnostic characters of the species: plant height generally 1.5-3 m, convex umbel, multiple stems, stem continuously purplish at base, plant smells like anise. Other details of identifying characters are provided elsewhere (Often and Graff, 1994; Nielsen et al., 2005; EPPO, 2009; Fröberg, 2010).

Seeds of the species can be smashed and in order to release the anise smell.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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H. persicum is often confused with H. mantegazzianum and H. sosnowskyi. The two latter species are generally taller (more than 3 m), have only a single stem, branched inflorescence up to tertiary level and an umbel which is mostly flat. Leaves and seeds of H. persicum impart a strong anise-like smell that is not present in other species. Stem is generally 1-5, basal part of the stem is purplish, and inflorescence is convex in H. persicum (Nielsen et al., 2005; Fröberg, 2010).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Rapid response

Both regional and local cooperation are required to combat H. persicum since it can easily cross political borders. Fortunately, all of the Nordic countries (where H. persicum occurs) are connected to one or more scientific networks, such as EPPO and NOBANIS, which are actively involved in invasive species management at a European scale.

Eradication

Complete eradication of H. persicum appears unlikely as it has invaded a fairly wide area in its introduced range, i.e., from 51.5 to 71.0°N (Rijal et al., 2015). However, effective prevention and control measures, in the end, should help eradicate species.

Control

Physical/mechanical control

Root cutting (digging), mowing, inflorescence removal and entire plant removal has been recommended as suitable methods for controlling H. mantegazzianum (Nielsen et al., 2005). Mowing of H. persicum 2-3 times during a growing season has not been very effective in northern Norway. Instead, density of plants is increasing each year and some plants are flowering even after mowing a couple of times in a season (DP Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, personal observation, 2015).

Unlike other giant hogweeds, H. persicum is truly perennial and can reproduce vegetatively when sexual reproduction fails. Thus, inflorescence or plant cutting would not be completely effective. However, mechanical or physical methods that efficiently uproot the plant should help control species.

Biological control

Biological control of H. persicum has not been attempted before. However, a recently discovered parasitic nematode, Heterodera persica (Maafi et al., 2006), may be utilized as a biological control in H. persicum’s introduced range. In the meantime, it is important to emphasize that H. persicum has attained a significantly different genetic architecture in its introduced range than in its native range (Jahodová et al., 2007). This may demand more than one biological control agents to parasitize on different genotypes in the introduced range.

Chemical control

Chemical treatment is considered as one of the effective and cheapest methods, and H. mantegazzianum has been reported to be susceptible to glyphosate and triclopyr (Nielsen et al., 2005). Glyphosate is a general herbicide that can effectively kill any plant species. Thus, H. persicum should also be susceptible to glyphosate. Unlike H. mantegazzianum, H. persicum spreads by vegetative growth. If glyphosate kills an aerial part but not the entire plant, then it may be less effective on H. persicum. Nielsen et al. (2005) suggested the use of more than one method to effectively combat giant hogweeds. Excessive use of chemical should be discouraged as it contaminates neighbouring water body as well as kills resident vegetation. 

Salt is often used by residents in Norway to try and kill H. persicum (Alm, 2013).

Control by utilization

Utilization of H. persicum has not been realized yet in its introduced range. H. persicum is being used in traditional medicine and for culinary purposes in its native range. Chemical screening of individuals from its native range has ranked H. persicum as a potential plant for commercial medicines.

Ecosystem Restoration

Case studies of the restoration of H. persicum invaded areas is lacking, however the general procedure of restoration should be similar to that of H. mantegazzianum. The nutrient-rich and denuded area, after eradication, is more sensitive to erosion and susceptible to novel invasion. In such case, re-vegetation or grassland management would be the best response (Nielsen et al., 2005). The habitat could be restored by sowing a mixture of native grasses that: have been proven to be competitive; produce dense swards; can grow in mixtures; are vigorous after repeated cutting (Nielsen et al., 2005). Such practices do not allow invasive species to re-establish.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Ecological requirements of H. persicum (e.g. range of soil pH, moisture requirement, temperature tolerance) have not received ample consideration. Reproductive biology, physiology and phenology, environmental requirement and biological interactions also require further research.

References

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Ahmad SA, 2013. Eighteen species new to the flora of Iraq. Feddes Repertorium, 124:65-68

Ahvazi M, Khalighi-Sigaroodi F, Charkhchiyan MM, Mojab F, Mozaffarian VA, Zakeri H, 2012. Introduction of medicinal plants species with the most traditional usage in Alamut region. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 11(1):185-194. http://ijpr.sbmu.ac.ir/?_action=articleInfo&article=1018

Alm T, 2013. Ethnobotany of Heracleum persicum Desf. ex Fisch., an invasive species in Norway, or how plant names, uses, and other traditions evolve. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 9(42). http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/pdf/1746-4269-9-42.pdf

Alm T, Jensen C, 1993. Tromsø palm (Heracleum laciniatum): some comments to the species' arrival and expansion in northern Norway. (Tromsopalmen (Heracleum laciniatum): noen kommentarer til artens innkomst og ekspansjon i Nord-Norge.) Blyttia, 51:61-69

DAISIE, 2015. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. European Invasive Alien Species Gateway. www.europe-aliens.org/default.do

Elven R, 2005. Norwegian flora (Norsk Flora), seventh edition. Oslo, Norway: Det Norske Samlaget, 1230 pp

EPPO, 2009. Heracleum mantegazzianum, Heracleum sosnowskyi and Heracleum persicum. EPPO Bulletin, 39:489-499

EPPO, 2015. EPPO Global Database (available online). https://gd.eppo.int

Firuzi O, Asadollahi M, Gholami M, Javidnia K, 2010. Composition and biological activities of essential oils from four Heracleum species. Food Chemistry, 122(1):117-122. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03088146

Fremstad E, Elven R, 2006. The large hogweed Heracleum species in Norway (De store bjornekjeksartene Heracleum i Norge). Trondheim, Norway: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 45 pp

Fröberg L, 2010. Heracleum L. In: Flora Nordica (Thymelaeaceae to Apiaceae) [ed. by Jonsell B, Karlsson T]. Stockholm, Sweden: The Swedish Museum of Natural History, 224-234

GBIF, 2015. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org/species

Gederaas L, Moen TL, Skjelseth S, Larsen L-K, 2012. Alien species in Norway with Norwegian blacklist 2012. (Fremmede arter i Norge-med norsk svarteliste 2012.) Trondheim, Norway: Artsdatabanken, 214 pp

Hemati A, Azarnia M, Angaji SA, 2010. Medicinal effect of Heracleum persicum (Golpar). Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 5:174-176

IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2015. Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN), Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Project/IPCN

Jahodová Š, Trybush S, Pyšek P, Wade M, Karp A, 2007. Invasive species of Heracleum in Europe: an insight into genetic relationships and invasion history. Diversity and Distributions, 13(1):99-114. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=ddi

Maafi ZT, Sturhan D, Subbotin SA, Moens M, 2006. Heterodera persica sp. n. (Tylenchida: Heteroderidae) parasitizing Persian Hogweed Heracleum persicum (Desf. ex Fisch.) in Iran. Russian Journal of Nematology, 14(2):171-178. HTTP://www.russjnematology.com

Maras M, 2008. An ITS DNA sequence-based phylogenic study of some Heracleum L. (Umbelliferae) species from Turkey's partial flora. Turkish Journal of Biochemistry, 33:163-168

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland, 2012. Finland's national strategy on invasive alien species. http://www.mmm.fi/attachments/ymparisto/vieraslajiseminaari9.12.2009/6AEAkMHw5/Finlands_national_strategy_on_invasive_alien_species.pdf

Myrås H, 1978. Interaction between plants with particular emphasis on a phenomenon called allelopathy. Probing interaction between Heracleum laciniatum Horn. hogweed and other plants. Masters thesis. (Interaksjon mellom planter med særlig vekt på allelopati. Undersøking av interaksjon mellom Heracleum laciniatum Horn. tromsøpalme og andre planter.) Norway: University of Tromso, 266 pp

Myrås H, Junttila O, 1981. Interaction between Heracleum laciniatum and some other plants. Ecography, 4:43-48

Nielsen C, Ravn HP, Nentwig W, Wade M, 2005. The giant hogweed best practice manual. Guidelines for the management and control of an invasive weed in Europe [ed. by Nielsen C, Ravn HP, Nentwig W, Wade M]. Hoersholm, Denmark: Forest and Landscape Denmark, 44 pp

NOBANIS, 2015. North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. http://www.nobanis.org/

Often A, Graff G, 1994. Distinguishing Marks for giant hogweed - Heracleum mantegazzianum, and hogweed - H. 'laciniatum'. (Skillekarakterer for kjempebjørnekjeks - Heracleum mantegazzianum, og tromsøpalme - H. 'laciniatum'). Blyttia, 52:129-133

Perglová I, Pergl J, Pysek P, 2006. Flowering phenology and reproductive effort of the invasive alien plant Heracleum mantegazzianum. Preslia, 78(3):265-285. http://www.ibot.cas.cz/preslia

Perglová I, Pergl J, Pyšek P, 2007. Reproductive ecology of Heracleum mantegazzianum. In: Ecology and management of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) [ed. by Pys?ek P, Cock MJW, Nentwig W, Ravn HP] Wallingford, UK: CABI, 55-73

Radjabian T, Salimi A, Rahmani N, Shockravi A, Mozaffarian V, 2013. Essential oil composition of some wild populations of Heracleum persicum Desf. ex Fischer growing in Iran. Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants, 16:841-849

Rechinger KH, 1987. Flora Iranica. Graz, Austria: Academic Press and Publishing House, 558 pp

Rijal DP, Falahati-Anbaran M, Alm T, Alsos IG, 2014. Microsatellite markers for Heracleum persicum (Apiaceae) and allied taxa: application of next-generation sequencing to develop genetic resources for invasive species management:1-10

Rijal, D. P., Alm, T., Jahodová, Š., Stenøien, H. K., Alsos, I. G., 2015. Reconstructing the invasion history of Heracleum persicum (Apiaceae) into Europe. Molecular Ecology, 24(22), 5522-5543. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.13411/abstract

Salehani MK, Mahmoudi J, Mahdavi SK, Habibzadeh R, 2013. The effect of altitude on breaking seed dormancy and stimulation of seed germination of Persian hogweed (Heracleum persicum). African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 10(6):555-558. http://journals.sfu.ca/africanem/index.php/ajtcam/index

Wasowicz P, Przedpelska-Wasowicz EM, Kristinsson H, 2013. Alien vascular plants in Iceland: diversity, spatial patterns, temporal trends, and the impact of climate change. Flora (Jena), 208(10/12):648-673. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03672530

Øvstedal DO, 1987. Is hogweed named Heracleum persicum? (Er tromsøpalma sit namn Heracleum persicum Desf?) Polarflokken, 11:25-26

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventory for Europe (DAISIE)http://www.europe-aliens.org/default.do
European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO)http://www.eppo.org
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global Biodiversity Information Facilityhttp://data.gbif.org
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finlandhttp://www.mmm.fi/en/index/frontpage.html
Norwegian Biodiversity Information Facilityhttp://www.biodiversity.no/

Principal Source

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Draft datasheet under review

Contributors

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31/03/2015 Original text by:

Dilli Prasad Rijal, The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

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