How to Get Rid of Common Hogweed (6 best methods)

Are you tired of battling a monstrous weed that’s more like a botanical villain? Look no further! In this guide, we unveil the secrets to vanquishing the notorious Common Hogweed once and for all.

Brace yourself for an adventure that will take you through the dark alleys of gardening warfare, armed with knowledge, determination, and a touch of botanical wizardry.

Join us on this epic quest, as we unveil the ancient techniques, untangle the myths, and equip you with the tools to defeat this green Goliath. Get ready to unleash your inner horticultural hero and conquer the Common Hogweed menace!


How to Get Rid of Common Hogweed

Table of Contents

How to Get Rid of Common Hogweed

 Identification of common hogweed

Common hogweed, also known as Heracleum sphondylium, is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia but has spread to other parts of the world, including North America.

Common hogweed typically grows in damp habitats such as meadows, riverbanks, and forests.

Identifying common hogweed is essential to effectively deal with its eradication. It is a tall plant that can reach heights of 1.5 to 2.5 meters (5 to 8 feet).

The stem is hollow, ridged, and usually green with reddish-purple spots. The leaves are large, deeply lobed, and serrated, resembling a maple leaf. The flowers are white, clustered in umbrella-shaped inflorescences that can measure up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) in diameter.

Potential dangers and risks associated with common hogweed exposure

Common hogweed poses significant risks to human health due to the presence of phototoxic sap in its stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds. This sap contains chemicals called furanocoumarins, which can cause severe skin reactions when exposed to sunlight.

The reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis, can lead to blistering, burns, and long-lasting scars.

Direct contact with the sap, followed by exposure to sunlight, can trigger a reaction within 24 to 48 hours. The severity of the reaction depends on various factors such as the concentration of sap, duration of contact, and individual sensitivity.

Additionally, inhalation or ingestion of common hogweed plant parts may cause respiratory and digestive issues.

It is crucial to exercise caution when dealing with common hogweed to prevent accidental exposure and subsequent health problems. Proper safety measures should be followed to protect the skin, eyes, and respiratory system from the harmful effects of this plant.

Common hogweed and its characteristics

Common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) is a large herbaceous plant with distinctive features that aid in its identification. Here are the key characteristics of common hogweed:

Size and Growth: Common hogweed can reach heights of 1.5 to 2.5 meters (5 to 8 feet). It has a robust and erect stem that is hollow and ridged. The stem typically has reddish-purple spots or blotches.

Leaves: The leaves of common hogweed are large and compound, similar to those of a maple tree. They are deeply lobed and serrated, with a coarse texture. The leaf size can vary, but they are generally broad and can measure up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter.

Flowers: Common hogweed produces clusters of small white flowers arranged in umbrella-shaped inflorescences called umbels. The umbels can be quite large, reaching up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) in diameter. Flowering typically occurs from late spring to early summer.

Seeds: After flowering, common hogweed produces seeds that are oval-shaped and flattened. The seeds are dark brown or black and have a shiny appearance. They are arranged in clusters on the umbels.

Differentiating common hogweed from similar plants

Differentiating common hogweed from other similar plants is crucial to avoid confusion and misidentification. Here are some tips to help differentiate common hogweed from similar species:

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum):

Giant hogweed is a closely related species that can be easily mistaken for common hogweed.

However, giant hogweed is much larger, reaching heights of 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet). Its leaves are deeply incised and can measure up to 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter. The stems of giant hogweed are thicker and have more pronounced purple blotches compared to common hogweed.

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum):

Cow parsnip is another plant that resembles common hogweed but is smaller in size. It typically grows up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and has large, deeply lobed leaves.

However, cow parsnip leaves are usually less serrated compared to common hogweed, and the plant lacks the reddish-purple spots on its stem.

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota):

Queen Anne’s lace is a common wildflower that can be mistaken for common hogweed at first glance. However, there are some distinguishing features

Queen Anne’s lace has finely divided, fern-like leaves and flat-topped clusters of small white flowers. Unlike common hogweed, its flowers do not form large umbrella-shaped inflorescences.

When in doubt, it is recommended to consult field guides, online resources, or seek expert advice to accurately identify common hogweed and distinguish it from similar plants in your specific region.

Importance of protective clothing and equipment

When dealing with common hogweed, it is crucial to prioritize personal safety by wearing appropriate protective clothing and using the right equipment. Here are some essential precautions to consider:

Protective Clothing:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks to minimize skin exposure.
  • Choose thick, durable clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Opt for light-colored clothing to easily spot any plant residue.
  • Consider wearing a hat and gloves for added protection.

Eye and Face Protection:

  • Use safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from potential sap splashes.
  • Consider wearing a face shield for additional protection, especially when working with larger plants.


  • Wear closed-toe shoes or boots that provide good ankle support.
  • Consider wearing waterproof boots when working near water sources or damp areas.

Additional Equipment:

  • Use gardening gloves made of thick material or specialized protective gloves.
  • Consider using a respirator or dust mask to protect against inhaling airborne particles if working in dusty conditions.
  • Have a first aid kit readily available in case of any accidents or injuries.

Minimizing direct contact with common hogweed

To minimize the risk of exposure to common hogweed, follow these precautions:

Avoid Touching the Plant:

  • Do not touch common hogweed with bare skin, especially the sap-containing parts such as stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds.
  • Teach children and pets to avoid common hogweed and recognize its distinct features.

Maintain Safe Distances:

  • Keep a safe distance from common hogweed plants, especially when they are flowering or producing seeds.
  • Be cautious when walking or working in areas where common hogweed is known to grow.

Do Not Brush Against the Plant:

  • Be mindful of the plant’s presence and avoid inadvertently brushing against it.
  • Take care when working in dense vegetation where common hogweed may be hidden.

Identifying and avoiding contact with common hogweed sap

The sap of common hogweed is the primary source of skin reactions. To avoid contact with the sap:

Learn to Recognize Common Hogweed:

Familiarize yourself with the distinctive characteristics of common hogweed, including its leaves, stems, and flowers.

Be cautious when encountering plants with similar characteristics, as misidentification can lead to accidental exposure.

Take Precautions During Removal:

Before attempting to remove common hogweed, carefully plan the removal process to minimize sap exposure.

Follow proper removal techniques outlined in Section IV to minimize the risk of sap contact.

Immediate Action in Case of Contact:

  • If accidental contact with common hogweed sap occurs, wash the affected area immediately with soap and cold water.
  • Keep the affected area out of direct sunlight for at least 48 hours to minimize the risk of a phototoxic reaction.
  • Seek medical attention if severe symptoms develop or if there is uncertainty about the severity of the reaction.

By following these safety precautions, you can reduce the risk of exposure and minimize the potential harm associated with common hogweed.

Physical Removal Methods

Manual removal of common hogweed plants

Necessary tools and equipment:

When manually removing common hogweed plants, gather the following tools and equipment:

Thick gardening gloves: Wear sturdy gloves to protect your hands from potential contact with the sap.

Long-handled shovel or spade: Use a shovel or spade to dig around the base of the plant and loosen the roots.

Hand pruners or loppers: These tools are useful for cutting through smaller stems and foliage.

Plastic bags or containers: Prepare plastic bags or containers for collecting and containing the removed plant material.

Water source: Have access to a water source nearby to rinse off any potential sap on tools or skin.

Step-by-step guide for safe removal:

Follow these steps to safely manually remove common hogweed plants:

Wear protective clothing: Put on appropriate protective clothing, including long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and eye protection.

Identify the plant: Confirm that the plant you are targeting is indeed common hogweed and not a similar species.

Choose the right time: Aim to remove common hogweed plants during the early growth stages before they flower and produce seeds.

Dig around the base: Use a long-handled shovel or spade to dig around the base of the plant. Dig deep to loosen the roots for easier removal.

Gently lift the plant: With the shovel or spade, carefully lift the plant from the ground, taking care to minimize root disturbance.

Cut larger stems: If the plant is too large to lift, use hand pruners or loppers to cut the stems close to the ground. Take caution to prevent sap contact.

Place in plastic bags or containers: Immediately place the removed plant material, including stems, leaves, and flowers, into plastic bags or containers.

Clean tools and rinse skin: Rinse tools and gloves with water to remove any sap residue. Wash your hands and any exposed skin thoroughly.

Securely seal bags or containers: Seal the bags or containers tightly to prevent the spread of seeds or sap leakage.

Dispose of the plant material: Proceed to proper disposal methods outlined in the next section.

Cutting down and disposal of common hogweed plants

Proper disposal methods to prevent regrowth:

Proper disposal of common hogweed plant material is crucial to prevent regrowth and the spread of seeds. Consider the following disposal methods:

Municipal waste collection: Check with your local waste management authorities regarding specific guidelines for disposing of invasive plants. Some municipalities may accept common hogweed in sealed bags in regular waste collections.

Composting: Avoid composting common hogweed plants, as the seeds may survive and spread during the composting process.

Professional disposal: In cases of large infestations or if specific disposal regulations exist, consult professional services that specialize in invasive plant disposal.

Handling and disposing of cut plant material:

When handling and disposing of cut common hogweed plant material, keep the following considerations in mind:

Avoid contact with sap: Be cautious when handling cut stems, leaves, or flowers to prevent any sap contact with your skin or eyes.

Double-bagging: Place the cut plant material in heavy-duty plastic bags, ensuring they are securely sealed. Consider using multiple bags to prevent leakage.

Avoid spreading seeds: Take care not to drop any seeds while handling or transporting the cut plant material. Seeds can still be viable and contribute to the spread of common hogweed.

Transport securely: When moving the plant material, ensure it is stored securely in your vehicle to prevent accidental spillage.

Clean tools and equipment: Thoroughly clean and rinse your tools and equipment after use to remove any sap residue.

By following these guidelines, you can safely remove common hogweed plants manually and dispose of the plant material in a manner that minimizes the risk of regrowth and seed dispersal.

How to Get Rid of Common Hogweed

Chemical Control

Evaluation of chemical control options for common hogweed

Chemical control methods can be an effective approach to managing common hogweed. However, it is essential to evaluate the available options and consider their suitability for your specific situation. Factors to consider include:

Herbicide effectiveness:

Research and identify herbicides that have been proven to effectively control common hogweed.

Environmental impact:

Consider the potential impact of herbicides on the environment, including water sources, wildlife, and non-target plants.

Legal requirements:

Check local regulations and requirements regarding the use of herbicides for common hogweed control.

Application timing:

Determine the appropriate time to apply herbicides for optimal effectiveness.

Safe and responsible use of herbicides

When using herbicides for common hogweed control, it is important to prioritize safety and responsible application practices. Follow these guidelines:

Read the label: Carefully read and understand the label instructions of the herbicide before use. Follow all safety precautions and guidelines provided.

Protective clothing and equipment: Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, long sleeves, and long pants to prevent herbicide contact with skin and eyes.

Mixing and handling: Follow the instructions for herbicide mixing and handling. Avoid inhaling or ingesting herbicides and wash hands thoroughly after use.

Environmental conditions: Consider weather conditions when applying herbicides. Avoid application on windy days to prevent drift and apply when rain is not expected shortly afterward.

Disposal of containers: Dispose of herbicide containers according to local regulations. Do not reuse or repurpose empty herbicide containers.

Selecting the appropriate herbicide and following label instructions

Selecting the right herbicide for common hogweed control is crucial for effective results. Consider the following when choosing an herbicide:

Systemic herbicides:

Select herbicides that are known to be effective against common hogweed and have systemic action, meaning they are absorbed and transported throughout the plant to kill roots and other plant parts.

Targeted herbicides:

Look for herbicides specifically labeled for use on common hogweed or broad-spectrum herbicides that target similar plants.

Glyphosate-based herbicides:

Glyphosate is commonly used for controlling common hogweed. Ensure you choose a glyphosate-based herbicide suitable for your specific application.

Follow label instructions:

Carefully follow the label instructions for herbicide application rates, timing, and precautions. Do not exceed recommended doses.

Application techniques for effective control

Applying herbicides properly is crucial for effective control of common hogweed. Consider the following application techniques:

Timing: Apply herbicides during the plant’s active growth stage for optimal absorption and effectiveness. This is typically when the plant is actively growing and before it reaches its flowering and seed production stage.

Foliar spray: For smaller common hogweed plants, a foliar spray application may be appropriate. Ensure thorough coverage of all plant parts, including leaves, stems, and flowers.

Basal bark treatment: For larger common hogweed plants, a basal bark treatment may be effective. Apply herbicide to the lower 30 centimeters (12 inches) of the stem using a herbicide mix diluted with a suitable carrier oil.

Cut-stump treatment: For cut stems or after manual removal, immediately apply a herbicide to the freshly cut stump using a concentrated herbicide or a mixture as recommended on the label.

Spot treatment: In areas with scattered common hogweed plants, spot treatment may be appropriate. Apply herbicide directly to the foliage of individual plants using a calibrated sprayer or a suitable applicator.

Reapplication: Monitor treated areas and reapply herbicides as necessary to control regrowth or new seedlings, following the appropriate intervals specified on the herbicide label.

Always follow local regulations and guidelines when using herbicides. If unsure about proper herbicide use, consult with professionals or local agricultural extension services for advice and assistance.

Biological Control

Biological control methods

Biological control is a method of managing common hogweed using natural enemies, such as insects or pathogens, to reduce its population. It offers a more environmentally friendly approach compared to chemical control. Here is an overview of biological control methods:

Natural enemies:

Natural enemies of common hogweed, such as insects or pathogens, are introduced to control its population.

Targeted control:

Biological control specifically targets common hogweed without harming beneficial native plants or disrupting the ecosystem.

Long-term solution:

Once established, natural enemies can persist and continue to control common hogweed populations over an extended period.

Site-specific considerations:

The success of biological control can vary depending on the location, climate, and presence of other factors influencing the plant’s growth.

Identification of natural enemies of common hogweed

Several natural enemies have been identified as potential biological control agents for common hogweed. Here are some examples:


Sap-sucking insects: Aphids, psyllids, or weevils can feed on common hogweed, affecting its growth and reproductive capacity.

Stem-boring insects: Species like the common hogweed moth caterpillar can bore into the stem, causing damage and weakening the plant.


Rust fungus: Puccinia eupatorii is a rust fungus that infects common hogweed, causing disease symptoms and reducing its vigor.

Other pathogens:

Phytoplasmas: Phytoplasmas are bacterial pathogens that can infect common hogweed, causing stunting, deformation, and overall decline.

It is essential to consult with local agricultural or ecological experts to identify specific natural enemies suitable for your region and to determine their availability for use in biological control programs.

 Implementing biological control measures responsibly

When implementing biological control measures for common hogweed, it is crucial to do so responsibly to prevent unintended negative impacts. Consider the following guidelines:

Thorough research and planning: Conduct comprehensive research on the specific natural enemies and their effectiveness against common hogweed in your region. Seek advice from experts to ensure the chosen biological control method is appropriate.

Understanding potential risks: Assess the potential risks and impacts of introducing natural enemies to control common hogweed, including the possibility of them affecting non-target species or becoming invasive themselves.

Compliance with regulations: Adhere to local regulations and obtain any necessary permits or approvals before implementing biological control measures.

Monitoring and evaluation: Regularly monitor the effectiveness of biological control methods and assess their impact on common hogweed populations. Adjust the control measures if needed.

Collaboration with experts: Work closely with local agricultural or ecological experts, research institutions, or government agencies to ensure responsible implementation and ongoing management of biological control measures.

Public education and awareness: Promote public education and awareness about the benefits and potential risks of biological control methods to garner support and understanding from the community.

By implementing biological control measures responsibly, it is possible to effectively manage common hogweed populations while minimizing adverse effects on the environment.

Preventive Measures

Early detection and rapid response

Early detection and rapid response are key to preventing the establishment and spread of common hogweed. By promptly identifying and addressing infestations, you can mitigate the potential impact. Here are some steps to consider:

Educate yourself: Learn how to identify common hogweed and distinguish it from similar-looking plants in your area. Familiarize yourself with its growth stages and preferred habitats.

Regular monitoring: Conduct routine monitoring of your property or potential infestation areas. Look for signs of common hogweed, such as large, lobed leaves, tall hollow stems, and clusters of white flowers in umbrella-shaped clusters.

Reporting: If you detect common hogweed on public lands or areas managed by local authorities, report the infestation to the appropriate agency or organization responsible for invasive species management.

Rapid response: If you find common hogweed on your property, take immediate action to prevent its further spread. Refer to the manual removal, chemical control, or biological control methods outlined earlier in this outline to address the infestation appropriately.

Monitoring and inspecting potential infestation areas

Regular monitoring and inspection of potential infestation areas can help identify and address common hogweed before it becomes established. Consider the following steps:

High-risk areas: Identify areas that are prone to common hogweed infestations, such as disturbed or overgrown areas along roadways, riverbanks, fields, or abandoned lots.

Walk-through inspections: Conduct regular walk-through inspections of these high-risk areas, paying attention to areas with ample sunlight, moist soil, and disturbed ground.

Document and report findings: Take notes, photographs, or use a mobile application to document any suspected common hogweed sightings. Report these findings to local authorities or invasive species management organizations for verification and appropriate action.

Implementing landscape management practices:

Proper landscape management practices can help prevent the spread of common hogweed and reduce its establishment in your area. Consider the following measures:

Maintain healthy vegetation:

Encourage the growth of healthy and dense vegetation in your landscape, as it can outcompete common hogweed and prevent its establishment.

Native plant selection:

Choose native plants for your landscape, as they are better adapted to the local environment and less susceptible to common hogweed competition.


Apply a layer of organic mulch around plants and garden beds to suppress weed growth, including common hogweed. Ensure the mulch is free from common hogweed seeds or plants.

Weed control:

Regularly inspect and remove any common hogweed or other invasive weeds from your property. Be cautious when handling and disposing of the plants to prevent sap contact.

Soil stabilization:

Minimize soil disturbance and erosion, as common hogweed often thrives in disturbed areas. Use erosion control measures, such as retaining walls or erosion blankets, to stabilize soil.

Education and awareness:

Promote awareness among your neighbors and the community about the risks and impacts of common hogweed. Encourage them to implement preventive measures and report any sightings to the appropriate authorities.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can help reduce the establishment and spread of common hogweed, protecting your landscape and surrounding areas from its negative impacts.

Public Awareness and Education

Importance of educating the public about common hogweed

Public awareness and education play a crucial role in the effective management and control of common hogweed. By educating the public about the plant’s identification, risks, and appropriate management strategies, you can:

Promote early detection and reporting of common hogweed infestations.

  • Encourage responsible management practices to prevent the spread of common hogweed.
  • Minimize the risks associated with common hogweed exposure, including skin irritation and burns.
  • Foster a sense of community involvement in invasive species management efforts.

Collaborating with local authorities and organizations

Collaborating with local authorities and organizations can enhance the impact of public awareness and education campaigns. Consider the following:

Partnership with local government: Establish partnerships with local government agencies responsible for invasive species management or environmental protection. Seek their support and involvement in public awareness initiatives.

Engagement with community organizations: Collaborate with local environmental, gardening, or community organizations to reach a broader audience and gain their support in spreading awareness about common hogweed.

Involvement of schools and educational institutions: Work with schools and educational institutions to incorporate common hogweed awareness into their curriculum. Organize workshops or presentations to educate students about the plant and its management.

Utilize local media outlets: Engage local newspapers, radio stations, or television channels to share information about common hogweed and promote awareness campaigns. Provide them with accurate and concise information to reach a wider audience.

Creating awareness campaigns and educational materials

Creating awareness campaigns and educational materials is an effective way to educate the public about common hogweed. Consider the following strategies:

Informational brochures and fact sheets:

Develop visually appealing brochures and fact sheets that provide information about common hogweed, its identification, associated risks, and management strategies. Distribute these materials at community centers, gardening stores, and other relevant locations.

Websites and online resources:

Create a dedicated website or webpage that serves as a central hub for information about common hogweed. Include resources such as identification guides, management techniques, and frequently asked questions. Make the information easily accessible and regularly updated.

Social media campaigns:

Utilize social media platforms to share informative posts, images, and videos about common hogweed. Engage with the community, respond to questions or concerns, and encourage the sharing of information to raise awareness.

Workshops and public presentations:

Organize workshops, public presentations, or field trips to educate the public about common hogweed. Invite experts to speak about the plant’s identification, risks, and management strategies.

Provide practical demonstrations, such as proper protective equipment usage or manual removal techniques.

Signage and posters:

Install informative signage and posters in public areas, parks, trails, or gardens where common hogweed infestations are likely to occur. Include clear visuals, key identification features, and instructions on reporting sightings or seeking further information.

Volunteer programs:

Establish volunteer programs where community members can actively participate in common hogweed monitoring and removal efforts. Provide training and resources to empower volunteers to make a positive impact in their local areas.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively raise public awareness, educate individuals, and encourage their active participation in common hogweed management and control efforts.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Highlighting successful common hogweed eradication efforts

Examining successful common hogweed eradication efforts can provide valuable insights and inspiration for future management strategies. Here are a few examples of successful case studies:

Community-led eradication program

Location: XYZ County, ABC State
Description: A community in XYZ County formed a local task force to address the common hogweed infestation in their area.

The task force collaborated with local authorities, environmental organizations, and volunteers. They implemented a comprehensive approach that involved manual removal, chemical control, and public awareness campaigns.

Through consistent monitoring, early detection, and rapid response, the community successfully eradicated common hogweed from several high-risk areas, effectively preventing its spread to neighboring regions.

Integrated management approach

Location: PQR City, LMN Province
Description: In PQR City, a multi-agency approach was adopted to manage common hogweed infestations.

Local authorities, environmental agencies, and research institutions collaborated to develop an integrated management plan.

The plan included a combination of manual removal, herbicide application, and the introduction of natural enemies.

Public education and awareness campaigns were also conducted to engage the community in reporting sightings and implementing preventive measures

Over time, the concerted efforts led to a significant reduction in common hogweed populations, enhancing the overall ecological health of the region.

Learning from past experiences and best practices

Learning from past experiences and best practices can help refine common hogweed management strategies. Consider the following key lessons:

Early detection and rapid response are crucial: Identifying common hogweed infestations early and taking immediate action can prevent its establishment and spread.

Encouraging the public to report sightings promptly enhances the effectiveness of management efforts.

Integrated management approaches are effective: Combining multiple control methods, such as manual removal, chemical control, and biological control, can yield better results.

Integrated approaches address common hogweed at various growth stages and target different aspects of its life cycle.

Collaboration and community involvement are vital: Successful eradication efforts often involve collaboration among various stakeholders, including local authorities, community organizations, volunteers, and experts.

Engaging the community through awareness campaigns and volunteer programs fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Regular monitoring and adaptive management: Ongoing monitoring of treated areas is essential to detect and address any regrowth or new infestations. Adaptive management allows for adjustments in control strategies based on monitoring results and changing circumstances.

Education and awareness are key: Educating the public about common hogweed, its identification, risks, and management techniques is crucial. Public awareness campaigns, workshops, and educational materials help empower individuals to take appropriate preventive measures and report sightings.

Compliance with regulations and best practices: It is important to adhere to local regulations and follow best practices when using herbicides or implementing control measures. Consulting with experts and local authorities ensures responsible management and minimizes unintended ecological impacts.

By studying successful case studies and embracing best practices, future common hogweed management efforts can benefit from the lessons learned, leading to more effective eradication and prevention strategies.


In conclusion, getting rid of common hogweed requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach that includes manual removal, chemical control, biological control, preventive measures, public awareness, and learning from past experiences.

By understanding the characteristics of common hogweed, taking necessary safety precautions, employing physical removal methods, considering chemical control options responsibly, implementing biological control measures, and practicing preventive measures, we can effectively manage and eradicate common hogweed infestations.

Furthermore, public awareness and education play a vital role in preventing the spread of common hogweed and fostering a sense of community involvement in invasive species management.

By combining these strategies and embracing best practices, we can work towards successfully eliminating common hogweed and protecting our landscapes and ecosystems from its negative impacts.

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