Heracleum maximum (Cow Parsnip)


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Plant Description: Charming multi-stemmed perennial. Very fragrant flowers and foliage with hollow stems and hairy leaves. Flowers are white and mostly flat topped. Blooms all summer long and persists into fall. Sometimes confused with Poison Hemlock, Cow Parsnip's leaves are smaller with less leaflets. Cow Parsnip also grows 6-10 flower clusters whereas Poison Hemlock is only growing 2-3. 

Cow Parsnip can cause rashes in some people and contains a phototoxin, furanocoumarin, which can cause a reaction after coming in contact with the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight. Avoid planting in walkways. 

  • Height: 3-10 ft
  • Width: 2-4 ft
  • Watering needs: Moist, not drought tolerant
  • Sun needs: full sun-part shade
  • Soil needs: moist-wet
  • Bloom Time: Early summer-early fall
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: Commonly found moist woodlands, riparian zones, along wet streambanks. Attracts many birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects. 


*Photos courtesy of SevenOaks


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