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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cow Parsnip Size Comparison

A few posts ago I mentioned the huge cow parsnips I found growing down near American Camp. Well, I found someone to go back with me and snap my picture next to them to give you a size comparison so you can see just how big they really are!

I guess they can get up to 10 feet tall....this one is probably between 6 and 7. There are a lot of other ones around on the south end of the island that are "only" 4-5 feet tall. I mentioned in my earlier post how similar they are to the deadly poison hemlock, and I found myself wondering just how sure I was of my identification! A closer look on this visit, however, revealed that the stems are covered in long hairs, a sure sign that it's the benign cow parsnip.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Is that a native plant? Looks like our introduced Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum which is midly poisonous/allegenic when touched in sunshine.

Warren Baker said...

I was going to say what the last poster wrote.
Check out it isn't Giant hogweed, can give a nasty rash when touched.

Monika said...

Yikes - giant hogweed, which is also known as giant parsnip over here, does not sound like a pleasant plant! It does look very similar to cow parsnip, which is native, but I'm pretty sure that's not what this is. First of all, I didn't get a rash (thank goodness!). Giant parsnip is also apparently even bigger, has darker stems, and is pretty actively removed from sites where it grows in the region. But now I definitely know to keep a look out....with the similarity of cow parsnip to poison hemlock and the phototoxic giant hogweed, I probably won't be interacting too closely with them any more just to be on the safe side!

Heather said...

Wow, that's one huge plant. They do not get that big in Ohio (or at least not around my house!) We do have some other plants that get super-tall in late summer - I'll have to try to remember to take reference shots when the time comes!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm reading your description and looking at your picture because my partner brought a plant that we thought was cow parsnip and my neighbour mentioned that it looked like giant hogweed! I've been checking all the informative government sites to be sure because it is such a stunning plant to experience, and I don't want to have to cut it down. I am concerned about the possibility of toxic reaction, which I understand can be not just painful but in the case of a similar plant, water
parsnip-deadly! There is easy access to it by the roadway, so I wouldn't want anyone to touch it.
Your picture confirmed that mine is actually giant hogweed which I guess I am required to report and destroy, so I'm off to do the deed.
Michael Wicks
Nelson, B.C.

Michael Wicks said...

Sorry. I made a mistake on my last post. I said that water parsnip was deadly when I meant poison hemlock.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica,

I love your size comparison of the cow parsnip to yourself. May I have permission to use it in an article we're writing for WildCare's February enewsletter? (

I'd be happy to credit you and provide a link to your blog.

Thanks for your consideration,

jolynn taylor, editor