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The Motherland of the Giant Hogweed

How Giant Hogweed Became a Botanical Symbol of Contemporary Russia

Anastasia Sinitsyna    Università Ca' Foscari Venezia    



Human intervention in ecosystems has led to the accelerated dissemination of species deemed ‘invasive’, often accompanied by a perception of inherent malevolence. In Russia, the rampant spread of the giant hogweed has emerged as one of the most debated ecological issues in recent decades. The giant hogweed (Heracleum), a herbaceous monocarpic plant first discovered in the Caucasus in 1944, now proliferates throughout the country, from Sochi to Yamal and from the Arctic to downtown Moscow. It is estimated that the giant hogweed occupies over 10% of continental Europe within Russia, with projections suggesting an increase to nearly 100% within the next 30 years. Frequently, the plant is likened to a botanical emblem of Russia or a symbol of Putin's regime, reflecting the social tensions that oscillate between apathy and antipathy toward the hogweed in media and activism spheres.

04 Settembre 2023
06 Luglio 2023
31 Marzo 2023

Keywords: Post-Soviet landscapesEcological imperialismRussiaDecolonial aestheticsPolitical ecologyEcocriticismInvasive speciesGiant hogweed

Copyright: © 2023 Anastasia Sinitsyna. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.