Heracleum lanatum (Common Cow Parsnip)
|Also known as:||American Cow-parsnip|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist fields, thickets, streambanks|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 10 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in flat clusters (umbels) 4 to 8 inches across, each cluster made up of 15 to 30 groups (umbellets) of white flowers. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch across with 5 white petals notched at the tip. The flowers on the outer edge are larger and have more deeply divided petals of unequal size. There are 5 white tipped stamens surrounding the creamy button center. One plant normally has a few to several clusters.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are palmately compound in 3's, softly hairy, with fine sharp teeth around the edges, to 18 inches long and wide near the base of the plant, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. The end leaflet is largest and lobed in 3 parts; each lobe may be further divided. Attachment is alternate.
Cow Parsnip is present throughout Minnesota, often seen in late spring and early summer along roadsides in wet ditches. It has broader flower clusters than most other members of the carrot family; that and the large leaves make it easy to ID. Cow Parsnip is the native counterpart to the highly invasive non-native Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), which is not yet present in Minnesota but is making its way here.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photo courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Yellow Medicine County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?