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Heracleum maximum Bartr.
Common cowparsnip, Cow Parsnip
Synonyms: Heracleum lanatum
USDA Symbol: HEMA80
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
This very tall plant has huge leaves and flat umbels of numerous tiny white flowers; stem is grooved, woolly, hollow, and stout.
This is the largest species of the carrot family in North America. The genus is named for Hercules, who is reputed to have used these plants for medicine. Early in each year, Native Americans peeled and ate the young sweet, aromatic leaf and flower stalks
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
AK , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY Canada: AB
, PE Native Distribution:
Most of North America from southern California to Georgia northward. Native Habitat:
Moist, partially shaded places, up to 9,000 (2,700 m) elevation. USDA Native Status: L48(N), AK(N), CAN(N),
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Organic, Clay, Loam, Sandy
BenefitUse Wildlife: Birds.
Warning: People with sensitive skin often develop rashes when contact with cow-parsnip is followed by exposure to bright sunlight. It is best to gather this robust plant with gloves. (Kershaw). For food and medicinal uses do not confuse with water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) which is poisonous. (Clough)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Anise swallowtail butterfly.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CANative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: TWC Staff