Giant Alien - Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) a pernicious invasive weed: Developing a sustainable strategy for alien invasive plant management in Europe (2001 - 2005)

Giant Alien – Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) a pernicious invasive weed: Developing a sustainable strategy for alien invasive plant management in Europe

(2001 – 2005)


Alien invasive plants such as Heracleum mantegazzianum are having a severe impact on biodiversity in Europe but no sustainable solutions are available to stop their spread and prevent future invasions. The overall objective of this project, supported within the 5th framework programme of EU (, was to develop an integrated management strategy that comprises effective, practicable and sustainable means of controlling an alien invasive plant. The aim was to provide a generic control strategy to safeguard the biodiversity of Europe from the increasingly serious threat of other alien invasives. In addition to the effective control of this species, the complex treatment of all aspects associated with invasive behaviour of the species yielded a model that can serve as a template by which other exotic species could be controlled or prevented from reaching the invasive phase.


Flowering plants of Giant Hogweed can be identified on the aerial photographs. The photographs from the Slavkovský les locality show expansion dynamics of Giant Hogweed in the years 1962 and 1991.


The topics addressed included:

  • creating a knowledge base for H. mantegazzianum including genetics, taxonomy, biology and ecology
  • modelling the invasion of the species at the local and continental scale
  • searching for, and assessing potential biological control agents in the area of origin of H. mantegazzianum for potential future use in Europe, including a risk-benefit analysis, an evaluation of existing European guidelines for the importation of exotic organisms, and an implementation plan
  • investigating presently applied mechanical and chemical control methods together with possible measures to reduce and prevent further dispersal of H. mantegazzianum and other alien invasive weeds
  • integrating the resultant knowledge and experience to produce best practice guidelines and an integrated control strategy
  • disseminating this knowledge to practitioners across Europe to implement effective and economic sound control measures.



Department of Invasion of Ecology, Institute of Botany AS CR, was involved as a partner in ecological studies on Heracleum mantegazzianum. The results of the project were published in a number of journal papers ( and in a monograph summarizing the current state of knowledge about this species (Pyšek et al. 2007). Based on the research conducted, a practical management guidelines were published in eight language versions (Nielsen et al. 2005) and the product can be freely downloaded from the project website (

Pyšek P., M.J.W. Cock, W. Nentwig & H.P. Ravn (2007): Ecology and Management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). – CAB International, Wallingford.

Nielsen C., Ravn H. P., Nentwig W. (eds.), Booy O., Cock M., Eckstein L., Hansen S. E., Hattendorf J., Hüls J., Jahodová Š., Krinke L., Moravcová L., Müllerová J., Otte A., Pergl J., Perglová I., Priekule I., Pyšek P., Thiele J., Treikale O., Trybush S., Vanaga I. & Wittenberg R. 2005. The giant hogweed best practice manual. Guidelines for the management and control of an invasive alien weed in Europe. – Forest and Landscape Denmark, Hoersholm, Denmark, 44 pp.


Ing. Jan Pergl, PhD.
tel. +420-271 015 236

prof. RNDr. Petr Pyšek, CSc.
tel. +420-271 015 266