Cow Parsnip

Genus Heracleum
Parsley Family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae)

Cow Parsnip
Heracleum lanatum

These are large plants, named after the ancient Greek hero Hercules. They have huge leaves -- each leaf may be well over a foot across. The base of each leaf forms a sheath around the stem. These plants grow in moist, partly shady areas.

The flowers grow in many umbrella shaped clusters (umbels) on the top surface of the big plant. Each of these umbels is about eight or ten inches across, and each is itself a cluster of smaller umbels (of around an inch or so in diameter). The umbels are irregular, in that the outer flowers of each umbel have larger petals than the inner flowers.

Albion Basin
Wasatch Mountains
Salt Lake County, Utah


by Sandra Bray