Heracleum persicum, commonly known as Persian hogweed or simply hogweed, is a flowering plant of the family Apiaceae, originally native to the region of Iran (Persia). It grows wild in humid mountainous regions in Iran, as well in some adjacent areas. As a spice, its common name in English is 'angelica,' although it is not related to the genus Angelica. Having been introduced in the 1830s, it has spread across Scandinavia. It is now very common in northern Norway, where it is known as the Tromsø palm. The plant has also been spotted in Sweden. In Finland, it has been declared as invasive species.
The seeds are used as a spice in Persian cooking. The very thin, small seed pods are aromatic and slightly bitter. They are usually sold in powdered form and are often erroneously sold as "angelica seeds". The powder is sprinkled over broad beans, lentils and other legumes, and potatoes. Golpar is also used in soups and stews. It is often used sprinkled over pomegranate arils. Golpar is also mixed with vinegar into which lettuce leaves are dipped before eating.
The tender leaves and leaf stalks can also be pickled (known as golpar torshi).
The juice from the plant is toxic and may cause skin reactions in exposed areas (phytotoxicity) when exposed to sunlight. This usually results in redness, itching, stinging, eczema and worst cases of severe burns (third degree burns) as the toxins make the skin sensitive to UV rays. This sensitivity may persist for up to one year after exposure.
Known ways to fight Tromsø palm are the constant cutting of new shoots. When cutting down, wear protective equipment, and remember to clean metal cutting tools after use as the juice is oxidising.
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