Orange and Hogweed Seed Cake: Delightful

I absolutely love making up this Orange and Hogweed Seed Cake, especially when we cook it in the orange skin over an open fire. The cardamom and zesty lemon skin flavour of the Common Hogweed Seeds marries up perfectly with the orange juice in this smooth & velvety cake.

Precautions and Safety Tips for Foraging for Hogweed Seeds

Before we delve into the world of hogweed seeds, it’s essential to address some precautions and safety tips to ensure a safe foraging experience. While foraging can be an exciting adventure, it’s important to exercise caution. Always remember to correctly identify the plants you’re foraging for and be aware of any potential look-alike plants that might be toxic. Invest in a field guide or join a local foraging group to learn from experienced foragers. Additionally, avoid foraging in polluted areas or places where pesticides may have been used. Lastly, be respectful of the environment by only taking what you need and leaving the rest for other foragers and wildlife. 

How to Identify and Harvest Common Hogweed & Its Seeds

Now, let’s turn our attention to the star of our foraging expedition – the hogweed seeds. Common Hogweed, is a plant that grows abundantly in meadows, along riverbanks, and in sunny woodland areas. Its seeds, which resemble small flat rugby balls, are packed with an abundance of flavor and culinary potential. They taste in the ballpark of cardamom, with a slight orange zestyness to them also.

Before setting out on your hogweed seed foraging expedition, it’s crucial to know how to identify the plant and its seeds accurately. Common hogweed has large, umbrella-like white flower clusters and can grow up to six feet tall. The stems are hollow and covered in fine hairs, and the leaves are deeply lobed. When it comes to harvesting the seeds, it’s best to wait until late summer or early autumn when they are fully matured and drying. Gently shake the seeds into a container, ensuring not to disturb the surrounding plants or environment. Always remember to leave some seeds behind for the plant to reproduce and thrive. We have a full identification guide for common hogweed right here. 

The main thing to be wary of is something called giant hogweed, Giant Hogweed is a lot larger than common hogweed, the leaves are a lot sharper and you can typically see the remnants of last year’s growth from the huge canes (6-10ft) that will be leftover. You can find out full guide for giant hogweed here.

Common Hogweed (Heracleum Sphondylium) Identification

Ingredients for 8 people

  • 200g sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 200g Flour
  • 1tsp hogweed seed powder
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 8 oranges

Method for this Orange and Hogweed Seed Cake:

  1. Cut your oranges in half, peel the zest off one half and remove the orange segments from the inside of the other half (do this for all the oranges)
  2. In a bowl mix your butter, flour, sugar, hogweed seeds and orange zest until a thick mixture is made
  3. Add your eggs and mix in thoroughly until you have a cake batter
  4. Tip batter in to the 8 half empty orange skins and place in the hot embers of the fire for 10-15minutes (depending on how big the oranges are

Enjoy warm and slightly gooey

Find all of our Common Hogweed Recipes right here


Here’s a great link to a map of the distribution of giant hogweed

Physical Characteristics of Common Hogweed

Hogweed is a herbaceous perennial or biennial plant that can grow from 50-120cms in height. The main stem rises from a large reddish rhizomatous root, it is striated or ribbed, hollow, and has bristly hairs all over.


The leaves can reach a length of 55cms in length, they are very pinnate, hairy, and serrated, they are divided into 3-5 lobed sections, the edges are typically round, unlike giant hogweed which are always extremely pointed.


Hogweed has white to pinkish flowers, displayed in large umbels (umbrella looking) up to 25cms, each containing 15-30 individual flowers, these individual flowers contain 5 petals.


The seeds are winged and flattened contained in pods with rounded edges, up to 1cm long.

Edible Use:

Root: edible, grated, Lacto fermented, alcohol infusions Stem: steamed, chopped in salads, battered, fried, on pizzas and omelets Leaves: soups, dried as a seasoning Fruit/seeds: as cardamom in cakes, cookies, shortbread, chutney, rice, curries, as a celery salt, infused with alcohol.


It’s referenced that the seeds have been used medicinally in the past, being heated in oil and applied to the skin for shingles; also a decoction of the seeds was to be used for aiding a running ear.


When all of the smaller leaves have grown, you often get new shoots appearing halfway up previously growing shafts, they can be found either in or emerging from paper-looking sheaths, these can be used exactly the same as the really young shoots.

Tips and Observations

Personally, I never wear gloves when picking this plant, of course, I don’t purposefully rub the juice on myself but I’ve never had an issue with the juice, if you plan to collect a lot of hogweeds or a little, wearing gloves, maybe marigolds, would be a safe bet, but don’t worry yourself too much.

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