Giant Hogweed vs. Queen Anne’s Lace

© iStock.com/hapelena

Written by Luxia Le

Updated: June 20, 2023

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As they’re both white-flowering, capped members of the carrot family, it can be hard to tell giant hogweed and Queen Anne’s lace apart at first glance. But this isn’t a mistake you want to make, and you almost certainly won’t make it twice once you experience the burning from the sap of giant hogweed. So let’s examine the differences between Queen Anne’s lace and giant hogweed.

Giant Hogweed vs. Queen Anne’s Lace: What’s the Difference?

The primary difference between Queen Anne’s lace and giant hogweed is their appearance. While they may look similar at first glance, with beautiful flower caps atop long stems, they have a few notable differences that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Giant Hogweed vs. Queen Anne’s Lace: Appearance

What Does Giant Hogweed Look Like?

Knowing what giant hogweed looks like is a survivalist 101 lesson. This plant is massive and towering, to which it owes the “giant” portion of its name. It has a large smooth stem that has flecks of reddish-purple spots all over it and is covered in coarse white hairs. The tip of the cap of the flowers of giant hogweed are white and don’t contain a dark place like Queen Anne’s lace typically has.

Giant hogweed will generally be massive compared to Queen Anne’s lace. A giant hogweed flower cap can reach 2.5 feet in diameter. These large umbels are unmistakable in size, and the plant’s leaves don’t leave anything to be desired either. The leaves of a giant hogweed plant are large — sometimes 5 feet in spread — and have hair on the underside. But don’t touch them looking for the hair. Instead, look with your eyes because the sap of giant hogweed plants is viciously poisonous and will give you some wicked contact dermatitis.

Giant hogweed in field with large flower cap.

Giant hogweed will generally be massive compared to Queen Anne’s lace with a flower cap that can reach 2.5 feet in diameter.

©iStock.com/Mieszko9

What Does Queen Anne’s Lace Look Like?

Queen Anne’s lace is much smaller and daintier than giant hogweed. The flower caps of a Queen Anne’s lace plant typically only reach around five inches in diameter. So, this plant is much smaller than the giant hogweed, and that’s probably the first thing you’ll notice about it. If the plant looks like Queen Anne’s lace but is bigger than you, it wants to hurt you. Don’t touch it.

Additionally, Queen Anne’s lace features a darker spot on the cap. The flower or flowers at the top of the flower cap will be purplish or reddish and much darker than the surrounding flowers. Giant hogweed flower caps will be white all the way through.

Queen Anne’s lace flowers in field

The flower caps of a Queen Anne’s lace plant typically only reach around five inches in diameter.

©Doikanoy/Shutterstock.com

Giant Hogweed vs. Queen Anne’s Lace: Growing Zones

Where Does Giant Hogweed Grow?

Giant hogweed is, to put it lightly, a colossal problem ecologically. Giant hogweed is exceptionally invasive, breeds like lightning, and is virtually impossible to get rid of once it starts growing. This pest plant is most common in Zone 3 of the United States and Canada. Still, it can really grow just about anywhere that it can get some sun, rain, and soil.

Giant hogweed will push out and kill other plants that grow in the area it claims as its new home. As such, many local governments recommend reporting sightings of giant hogweed to them so that professionals can deal with the infestation.

Historically, southern Canadians used to buy giant hogweed seeds to try and grow the most towering plants. However, this resulted in a massive infestation of giant hogweed in Zone 3. The effects of this decision are still often felt today.

Where Does Queen Anne’s Lace Grow?

Queen Anne’s lace can be found in most of the northern hemisphere. However, the plant originates from Afghanistan, making it an exceptionally hardy and drought-resistant plant. As a result, Queen Anne’s lace has been successfully imported to most of the northern hemisphere.

Queen Anne’s lace prefers dry fields, roadside ditches, and open areas to grow and propagate. Any dry place that gets a lot of sun is an excellent area to plant and grow Queen Anne’s lace if you want to add it to your garden.

Giant hogweed plant with purple spots on stem

Giant hogweed has a large smooth stem that has flecks of reddish-purple spots all over it and is covered in coarse white hairs.

©iStock.com/SailsKool

Giant Hogweed vs. Queen Anne’s Lace: Precautions

What Should I Do if I See Giant Hogweed in My Yard?

If you think you’ve found giant hogweed in your yard, there are ways to keep the plant in check yourself. Still, you’re better off calling a professional gardening company with the correct protective gear for dealing with the plant. You see, touching the plant itself won’t typically give you a reaction, but if you break the membrane and touch the sap, you’re in for a world of hurt.

Gardening companies recommend that you clip the flowers of giant hogweed and throw them away without touching the sap. In addition, it’s recommended that you thoroughly clean your gardening gear after cutting the flowers, as they may have come in contact with the plant’s sap during work.

Giant hogweed plants flower before they can produce seeds, and clipping away the flowers prevents them from seeding. Since giant hogweed is a biennial plant, it will eventually die out if you keep doing this. However, this can be risky since it puts you in danger of coming in contact with the seeds.

However, we must warn you never to try to uproot the plant yourself. If you plan to deal with the hogweed on your own, you must keep your interaction with the plant limited to clipping away the flowers. Attempting to uproot or hack away the rest of the plant puts you in the blast zone for the sap. In addition, you very likely don’t have the necessary protective gear to keep yourself safe from it. So, leave that to the professionals if you can.

Suppose you’re looking to get the hogweed out of your yard as soon as possible. In that case, you can contact a professional gardening company, and they’ll uproot the plant and destroy any seeds they find. This method is the fastest way to get rid of giant hogweed, but if you’re looking for a cheaper plan, just clip the flowers away and toss them. The plant will die on its own since it can no longer self-propagate.

What Should I Do If I See Queen Anne’s Lace in My Yard?

You don’t need to do anything if you see Queen Anne’s lace in your yard. These plants are relatively harmless and don’t present any dangers to you or the rest of your garden. If you don’t want to propagate them, you can uproot them. Both hand-pulling and mowing the plant before it can seed are effective ways to keep Queen Anne’s lace in check.

Queen Anne’s lace flower cap

While many consider Queen Anne’s lace to be a weed, it doesn’t present any dangers to you or the rest of your garden.

©Lake Erie Gal/Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Queen Anne’s lace and giant hogweed might look similar in their early stages. Still, they’re hard to mistake for each other once the plants fully mature due to the massive difference in size. Luckily, even early on, you can tell the difference between the two plants by looking at the stems’ color and the flower caps’ tips. Suppose you need help controlling the weeds in your yard. In that case, we recommend employing professional gardeners, especially if you think you have giant hogweed in your yard. Professional gardeners have essential protective gear to protect them from dangerous plants like giant hogweed.


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