Heracleum maximum

Cow Parsnip

Plant Type: Perennial
Sun: Partial Shade
Drainage: Adaptable
Water: Naturalize, Occasional
Height X Width: 3' X 2'
Santa Clara County Local: Yes
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Cow parsnip grows throughout much of the US. In California it prefers coastal and mountainous settings in the northern half of the state. Wherever found, it makes a bold display of large deeply lobed leaves and a tall flower stock topped by an umbel of tiny white flowers. Swallowtails and many other pollinators take advantage of this pad of fragrant, nectar-rich flowers. The flower head may be removed after flowering, but the developing seed provides much forage for wildlife. Cow parsnip tends to grow in areas of higher than average seasonal moisture, and seems to benefit from occasional water. This carrot relative develops a large tap root and becomes more tolerant of drought with time. Plant cow parsnip in partial shade in inland areas. It accepts a variety of soil types.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: Yes
Evergreen or Deciduous: Deciduous