Alphabetical Plant Listing

Heracleum maximum (Cow Parsnip)

Common Cowparsnip, Cow Parsnip, American Cow Parsnip, American Hogweed, Giant Hogweed, Indian Celery, Indian Rhubarb, Heracleum lanatum, Heracleum sphondylium ssp. montanum, Heracleum sphondylium var. lanatum


Great for attracting pollinators, Heracleum maximum (Cow Parsnip) is a very tall biennial or short-lived perennial with huge leaves and enormous flat umbels, 6-8 in. (15-20 cm), packed with many tiny white flowers. Blooming from early spring to early fall (depending on geographic locations), the lacy umbels float atop tall flowering stems that are stout and hollow. Indigenous people in the Northwest used the hollow stems to make deer calls. Because of the large size of its blossoms, Cow Parsnip is one of the best sources of nectar and pollen for a wide variety of insects and butterflies. The plant bears large and dramatic, pinnately divided leaves, 8-20 in. long (20-50 cm). During the first year, the basal leaves are produced, but the second year, the plant produces its impressive flowering stalks and umbels. Cow Parsnip is a spectacular wildflower for the edge of woodlands, moist prairies and meadows, or other natural landscapes. Its massive umbels may be cut for dried arrangements. The seed heads hold well into winter, extending the seasonal interest of this North American native plant.

  • Grows up to 4-8 ft. high (120-240 cm). Self-seeds profusely in the landscape.
  • Performs best in full sun or part shade in moist, well-drained soils. Cow Parsnip is not fussy about soil conditions as long as enough moisture is provided.
  • Cow Parsnip is an ideal addition to prairie plantings, wildflower gardens or butterfly gardens.
  • Do not get the sap from this plant on your skin and then be exposed to the sun as rashes can occur. Wear gloves.
  • Propagation is easy by seed.
  • Native to North America, Asia

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Requirements

Hardiness 4 – 10
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' – 8' (120cm – 240cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Alaska, California, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Southeast, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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By hapelena, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 4 – 10
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' – 8' (120cm – 240cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Alaska, California, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Southeast, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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