Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Cow parsnip occurs from Newfoundland west to Alaska and south to
California, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, and Georgia
[22,26,30,47,68]. It is not found in northern Canada or in the extreme
southern and southeastern regions of the United States.

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America

AK AZ CA CO CT DE GA ID IL IN
IA KS KY ME MD MA MI MN MO MT
NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OR
PA RI SC SD TN UT VT VA WA WV
WI WY AB BC MB NB NF NS ON PE
PQ SK

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: forb

Cow parsnip is a native, perennial forb that grows from 3.3 to 10 feet
(1-3 m) tall [24,26,35] and has broad, flat-topped umbels [33,80]. It
grows from a stout taproot or a cluster of fibrous roots [35,39,72,82].
Leaves are 8 to 20 inches (20-50 cm) long and wide [26,59,82]. The
egg-shaped fruit is 0.32 to 0.48 inch (8-12 mm) long and 0.24 to 0.36
(6-9 mm) wide [26,82].

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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, climax, fern

Cow parsnip occurs in a wide variety of forested habitat types, as well
as grassland, shrubland, meadow, alpine, and riparian zones
[3,13,14,34,85].

Cow parsnip is a member of the Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis)
old-growth forest in Washington [2]. Cow parsnip occurs in whitebark
pine (Pinus albicaulis) communities of Montana [3]. It is a common
understory species in subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and Engelmann
spruce (Picea engelmannii) habitat types of the Intermountain West
[9,12,20,69]. A subalpine fir/cow parsnip association in Montana, and a
cow parsnip-western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) community type
in Wyoming are described [14,20]. A climax black hawthorn (Crataegus
douglasii)-cow parsnip habitat type has been described for Washington
and Idaho [13,50]. A climax quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)/cow
parsnip habitat type has been described for Utah and Wyoming [57,58].

Cow parsnip is found in seral quaking aspen community types in Wyoming,
Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Montana [7,34,41,57,58,85], and is a dominant
understory species in quaking aspen-dominated communities of Utah,
Colorado, and Montana [41,64]. An quaking aspen/cow parsnip habitat
type has been described for Colorado and Idaho [34,41]. In Canada, cow
parsnip is a member of the subboreal, aspen-dominated spruce zone
[8,11,75].

In eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and northern Utah, cow parsnip occurs
in a red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)/cow parsnip riparian habitat
type [86]. A California false hellebore (Veratrum californicum)-cow
parsnip habitat type has been described in Washington [32]. Cow parsnip
occurs in riparian areas dominated by willow (Salix spp.) throughout the
Intermountain West [19,29,77].

The following publications list cow parsnip as a community dominant or
codominant:

Steppe vegetation of Washington [13]
A vegetation study in the subalpine zone of the western North Cascades,
Washington [20]
Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming
[86]

Species not previously mentioned but commonly associated with cow
parsnip include incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), black cottonwood
(Populus trichocarpa var. hastata), narrowleaf cottonwood (P.
angustifolia), thinleaf alder (Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia), Sitka
alder (A. sinuata), bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), bigleaf maple
(A. macrophyllum), Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), dwarf bilberry
(Vaccinium myrtillus), grouse whortleberry (V. scoparium), roses (Rosa
spp.), mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus), western snowberry
(S. occidentalis), Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia),
bristly gooseberry (Ribes setosum), common chokecherry (Prunus
virginiana), California hazel (Corylus cornuta var. californica), fowl
bluegrass (Poa palustris), California brome (Bromus carinatus), blue
wildrye (Elymus glaucus), field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), bluejoint
reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), fireweed (Epilobium
angustifolium), western aster (Aster occidentalis), large-leaved avens
(Geum macrophyllum), sweet-scented bedstraw (Galium triflorum), stinging
nettle (Urtica dioica), Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis), smooth
woodrush (Luzuli hitchcockii), menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea),
queencup beadlily (Clintonia uniflora), tall larkspur (Delphinium
occidentalis), Richardson's geranium (Geranium richardsonii), saw
groundsel (Senecio serra), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
[11,12,20,29,57,58].

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K014 Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K021 Southwestern spruce - fir forest
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K025 Alder - ash forest
K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K049 Tule marshes
K050 Fescue - wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K074 Bluestem prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

More info for the term: shrub

FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES19 Aspen - birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

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Habitat characteristics

Cow parsnip occurs in a variety of habitats including woodlands, forest
openings, grasslands, and riparian areas such as wet meadows, stream
terraces, alluvial benches, floodplains, and stream and lake margins
[26,28,29,82]. It is commonly found growing in snow-maintained
disclimaxes such as avalanche chutes [28,47,55]. Cow parsnip is a
facultative wetland species [29]; it grows best in moist, shaded areas
[35,59,84] but can also be found in open woodlands and clearings
[35,38,44,56,80].

Cow parsnip grows best on moist to semiwet soils with good drainage
[24,34,44,47]. It grows best on loam and sandy loam soils derived from
limestone and shale, but occurs on clay, clay loam, and gravelly
substrates as well [1531,65].

Elevations for cow parsnip for several states are as follows:

feet meters

Arizona 7,500-9,000 2,250-2,700 [42]
California less than 8,500 less than 2,600 [35]
Colorado 4,700-10,500 1,410-3,150 [15,30]
Montana 4,200-8,500 1,260-2,550 [3,29]
Utah 5,200-9,000 1,560-2,700 [15]
Washington 3,300-5,775 1,000-1,750 [2,9]
Wyoming 3,400-12,500 1,020-3,750 [15]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
38 Tamarack
63 Cottonwood
107 White spruce
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
208 Whitebark pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
212 Western larch
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
221 Red alder
235 Cottonwood - willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Cow Parsnip in Illinois

Heracleum lanatum (Cow Parsnip)
(Also known as Heracleum maximum; short-tongued bees collect pollen or suck nectar; long-tongued bees usually suck nectar, but may also collect pollen; other insects suck nectar or feed on pollen; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Moure & Hurd, LaBerge, Krombein et al., Mawdsley, and Lisberg & Young as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia speciosa sn; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada illinoiensis sn, Nomada integerrima sn, Nomada obliterata sn, Nomada superba superba sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis pilosifrons sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn cp, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus confusus sn, Halictus parallelus sn cp, Halictus rubicunda sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp, Lasioglossum laevissimus (MH), Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes confertus sn fq, Sphecodes cressonii sn, Sphecodes dichroa sn, Sphecodes heraclei heraclei sn, Sphecodes illinoensis sn, Sphecodes ranunculi sn, Sphecodes stygius sn; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes aestivalis sn, Colletes inaequalis sn cp, Colletes kincaidii (LB), Colletes simulans armata sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis fq, Hylaeus illinoisensis sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn fq, Hylaeus modestus modestus sn fq icp, Hylaeus saniculae sn, Hylaeus verticalis (Kr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena andrenoides andrenoides sn, Andrena carlini sn, Andrena crataegi sn, Andrena cressonii sn cp, Andrena distans sn, Andrena erythrogaster sn, Andrena forbesii sn cp, Andrena heraclei sn cp, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn cp fq, Andrena miranda (Kr), Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn cp fq, Andrena nuda sn cp fq, Andrena pruni sn, Andrena rugosa sn cp, Andrena sayi sn cp, Andrena spiraeana sn

Wasps
Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Crossocerus lentus, Ectemnius atriceps, Ectemnius decemmaculatus fq, Ectemnius lapidarius fq, Ectemnius maculosus, Ectemnius rufifemur, Ectemnius rufipes, Lestica confluentus fq, Oxybelus emarginatus, Oxybelus niger, Oxybelus uniglumis fq; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Liris argentata, Tachysphex acuta; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Chalybion californicus, Chlorion aerarius, Sceliphron caementaria; Vespidae: Dolichovespula maculata, Polistes carolina, Polistes fuscata fq, Vespula germanica; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus adiabatus, Ancistrocerus unifasciatus, Eumenes fraterna, Euodynerus foraminatus, Euodynerus megaera, Leionotus scrophulariae, Stenodynerus ammonia, Stenodynerus anormis, Stenodynerus oculeus, Symmorphus albomarginatus, Symmorphus canadensis; Pompilidae: Anoplius illinoensis, Anoplius marginatus, Anoplius tenebrosus, Anoplius virginiensis, Aporus feralis, Ceropales maculata, Episyron biguttatus, Evagetes parvus, Pompilus scelestus; Tiphiidae: Tiphia inornata, Tiphia letalis, Tiphia vulgaris fq; Chrysididae: Holopyga ventrale; Eucoilidae: Eucoilidea canadensis, Pseudeucoila mellipes; Elasmidae: Elasmus nigripes; Perilampidae: Perilampus fulvicornis; Gasteruptiidae: Gasteruption tarsatorius; Ichneumonidae: Endasys subclavatus, Ichneumon ambulatorius, Ichneumon annulatorius, Ichneumon longulus, Lissonota clypeator, Tersilochus conotracheli, Trogus pennator, Tryphon americanus, Tryphon seminiger; Braconidae: Bracon variabilis

Sawflies
Tenthredinidae: Dolerus aprilis

Flies
Sciaridae: Sciara atrata fq, Sciara inconstans; Bibionidae: Bibio albipennis albipennis, Dilophus obesulus fq; Mycetophilidae: Epicypta scatophora; Tabanidae: Chrysops indus, Chrysops striatus; Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus glaber fq, Odontomyia cincta, Stratiomys discalis, Stratiomys meigenii fq, Stratiomys normula; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Blera umbratilis, Ceriana abbreviata, Cheilosia hoodiana, Chrysogaster antitheus, Didea fuscipes, Eristalis anthophorina, Eristalis arbustorum, Eristalis dimidiatus fq, Eristalis transversus fq, Eupeodes americanus, Helophilus fasciatus, Mallota bautias fq, Mallota posticata, Myolepta nigra, Myolepta strigilata, Orthonevra nitida, Orthonevra pictipennis, Paragus bicolor, Pipiza femoralis, Pterallastes thoracicus, Somula decora, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Syritta pipiens, Syrphus ribesii, Syrphus torvus, Temnostoma trifasciatum, Toxomerus marginatus, Trichopsomyia apisaon, Trichopsomyia banksi, Tropidia quadrata, Xylota bicolor; Empidae: Empis distans fq, Empis levicula fq, Empis pudica, Rhamphomyia fumosa, Rhamphomyia mutabilis fq, Rhamphomyia priapulus fq, Rhamphomyia rava, Tachydromia maculipennis; Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps, Toxophora amphitea, Villa alternata; Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis, Zodion americanum, Zodion fulvifrons; Tachinidae: Archytas analis, Archytas aterrima, Belvosia unifasciata, Brachicoma sarcophagina, Chaetogaedia analis, Chetogena claripennis, Cryptomeigenia theutis, Gymnochaeta alcedo, Gymnoclytia immaculata, Gymnoclytia occidua, Gymnosoma fuliginosum, Leucostoma aterrimum, Leucostoma gravipes, Leucostoma simplex, Lydina americana, Masicera fraudulenta fq, Phasia aeneoventris, Phasia fumosa, Phasia purpurascens, Siphosturmia phyciodis, Strongygaster triangulifera, Tachinomyia panaetius, Trichopoda pennipes, Uramya pristis; Sarcophagidae: Amobia aurifrons fq, Blaesoxipha impar, Helicobia rapax fq, Oebalia aristalis, Ravinia anxia, Ravinia derelicta, Ravinia stimulans, Sarcophaga aldrichi, Sarcophaga bullata, Sarcophaga sarracenioides, Sarcophaga utilis, Sphixapata trilineata fq; Calliphoridae: Cynomya cadaverina, Lucilia illustris fq, Lucilia sericata fq, Phormia regina fq; Muscidae: Graphomya americana fq, Limnophora narona, Morellia micans fq, Neomyia cornicina fq; Anthomyiidae: Calythea nigricans, Calythea pratincola fq, Delia platura fq; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata fq; Sepsidae: Sepsis violacea; Chloropidae: Apallates coxendix, Chaetochlorops inquilina, Chlorops proximus fq, Hippelates plebejus, Homaluroides mellea, Liohippelates flavipes, Liohippelates pusio fq, Olcella cinerea, Olcella trigramma; Milichiidae: Leptometopa latipes, Pholeomyia indecora

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Cercyonis pegala alope, Chlosyne nycteis, Limenitis archippus, Phyciodes tharos; Papilionidae: Battus philenor, Papilio marcellus

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites peckius

Beetles
Cantharidae: Rhagonycha dichrous; Cerambycidae: Euderces picipes; Chrysomelidae: Acalymma vittata, Diabrotica undecimpunctata; Cleridae: Trichodes nutalli (Mwd); Curculionidae: Centrinites strigicollis; Dermestidae: Anthrenus muscorum, Cryptorhopalum haemorrhoidalis, Orphilus niger; Meloidae: Epicauta murina; Melyridae: Malchius erichsonii; Mordellidae: Mordella marginata, Mordellochroa scapularis fq (Rb, LY); Pyrochroidae: Pedilus labiatus; Scarabaeidae (Cetoniidae): Euphoria sepulcralis, Trichiotinus affinis, Trichiotinus piger

Plant Bugs
Miridae: Taedia scrupeus; Thyreocoridae: Corimelaena pulicarius

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General Ecology

Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, tree, wildfire

Cow parsnip may benefit from both canopy removal and increased water
availability after tree cover is removed by fire. Cow parsnip had
greater percent cover following both wildfire and clearcutting without
scarification (some stands broadcast burned) than after clearcutting
with scarification [87].

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Cow parsnip is probably killed or top-killed by fire.

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: succession

Cow parsnip can occur throughout succession in moist or wet subalpine
fir-Engelmann spruce habitat types in Idaho and Wyoming. These habitat
types have estimated average fire-free intervals of about 330 years.
Stands are susceptible to severe burns when drought occurs [91]. Cow
parsnip also occurs throughout succession in communities characterized
by more frequent fire, including quaking aspen [93].

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: association, climax, cover, frequency, relative frequency

Cow parsnip occurs in seral and climax communities. It is shade
tolerant, but also grows in some open habitats [29,38,41,44,58]. Cow
parsnip is a common understory species in quaking aspen community types,
which are often successional in subalpine forests of the Intermountain
region [4,20,29,41]. Cow parsnip is a member of the red alder (Alnus
rubra) association of Oregon that may be replaced in 30 to 50 years by
black cottonwood or in 30 to 70 years by grand fir (Abies grandis) [31].
The red-osier dogwood-cow parsnip community type of Utah and
southeastern Idaho is an early seral type that colonizes streambanks and
adjacent areas [60]. In the black hawthorn-cow parsnip habitat type of
Washington, cow parsnip can grow as well with or without the black
hawthorn canopy [13]. Cow parsnip occurs in climax aspen forests
throughout the Intermountain West, and in mature to climax subalpine
forests in Wyoming and Montana [14,41,58].

Studies of cow parsnip in clearcuts indicates that its response to
canopy removal is variable. In northern Utah cow parsnip cover was
variable in both control and clearcut stands. Early succession
following a 1974 clearcut of aspen communities (with no slash treatment)
in northern Utah was studied. Percent understory cover of cow parsnip
on clearcuts and uncut controls was [4]:

1973 1975 1976 1977
cut control cut control cut control cut control

0 1.5 1.8 0 0.7 0.3 0.4 0.4

The effects of clearcutting on wildlife habitat were studied in a moist
subalpine forest in central Colorado. Understory cover of cow parsnip
before and after clearcutting (with no slash treatment) was [12]:

before logging years after logging (1978-1982)
(1976) 1 2 3 4 5

cover(%) 0.6 3.1 8.2 8.9 13.3 10.7

In the subalpine fir/queencup beadlily habitat type in northwestern
Montana, cow parsnip occurs in a variety of disturbed and undisturbed
communities. Relative frequency and average canopy cover of cow parsnip
were as follows [87]:

relative frequency % cover

wildfire (35-70 years prior to study) 6 15
clearcut (15-35 years old), slash dozer-piled 4 3
clearcut (15-35 years old), slash not dozer-piled 8 15
old-growth (two types of plots) 3,20 0.5,7.8

Snowchutes are "topographic climax" or disclimax communities that
produce an abundance of grizzly bear foods. In subalpine fir/menziesia,
subalpine fir/queencup beadlily, and subalpine fir/smooth woodrush
habitat types, relative frequency/average precent canopy cover of cow
parsnip in snowchutes was 50/19, 65/13, and 75/6.2, respectively [87].

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: adventitious

Cow parsnip reproduces by seed [15,38]. For successful germination in
the laboratory, seed should not be stored more than 3 years [72,73].
Some flowers within an umbel only produce stamens, while others are
hermaphroditic. Secondary umbels develop synchronously approximately 10
to 14 days after the primary umbel. Hermaphroditic flower and seed
production may be increased by herbivory [33].

The potential for cow parsnip to regenerate vegetatively is not clear;
Cole and Trull [9] include cow parsnip in a group of plants that
"regenerate rapidly from subsurface adventitious buds."

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: hemicryptophyte

Hemicryptophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: forb

Forb

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Post-fire Regeneration

Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Cow parsnip flowering dates are as follows:

Arizona July-Aug [42]
California Apr-July [59]
Colorado May-Aug [15]
Georgia May-Aug [63,83]
Kentucky May-Aug [63,83]
North Carolina May-Aug [63,83]
North Dakota Jun-Aug [15]
Tennessee May-Aug [63,83]
Utah Jun-Aug [15]
Virginia May-Aug [63,83]
West Virginia May-Aug [63,83]
Wyoming Jun-July [15]
Great Plains May-July [26]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Heracleum maximum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heracleum maximum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heracleum lanatum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Management

Management considerations

In Washington cow parsnip is sensitive to grazing and can be eliminated
from steppe vegetation if overgrazed [13]. In Colorado cow parsnip
decreases with grazing [41]. Cow parsnip is sensitive to soil
compaction or severe soil disturbances which may be caused by mechanical
scarification or trampling [9,67].

In high mountain ecosystems of Utah, cow parsnip should be broadcast or
drill-seeded in the fall at 1 to 2 pounds per acre in a mixed seeding
for best forage results [38].

Parsnip webworm, a European-introduced herbivorous insect, feeds on
developing flowers and seeds of cow parsnip. Floral herbivory can
decrease seed production by up to 40 percent and seed biomass 53 percent
[5,33].

Cow parsnip appears to persist or increase after clearcutting [4,12],
but to decrease after soil scarification [87].

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Cow parsnip cover values are rated as follows [15]:

UT CO WY MT

elk poor ---- poor ----
mule deer poor ---- fair ----
white-tailed deer ---- fair ---- ----
pronghorn poor ---- poor ----
upland game birds fair ---- fair poor
waterfowl poor ---- fair ----
small nongame birds good ---- good poor
small mammals good ---- good poor

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers in Idaho ues cow parsnip as cover [19], and
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse use the black hawthorn-cow parsnip habitat
type as escape cover, especially in the winter [50].

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Other uses and values

Native Americans of Alaska, British Columbia, the Great Plains, and
Arizona used cow parsnip for medicinal and nutritional purposes
[26,39,42,48]. Native Americans in Alaska ate the inside of stems raw
and boiled the roots to extract sugar [39]. In Arizona, the Apache ate
the young leaves and stems and used the roots to treat epilepsy [42].

Cow parsnip is planted as an ornamental [38].

In the Great Plains cases of dermatitis have been reported in persons
who came in contact with the foliage of cow parsnip [26].

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Cow parsnip is rated moderately good for erosion control, short-term
revegetation potential, and long-term revegetation potential [15]. Cow
parsnip has fair soil stabilization value if seeded in the fall in
quaking aspen, mountain brush, and subalpine herbland communities of
Intermountain rangelands [72].

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Cow parsnip is a valuable forage species for livestock, deer, elk,
moose, and bear [37,42,43,54]. In West Virginia cow parsnip provides
forage for livestock and deer [10]. Moose in Montana and Yellowstone
National Park eat cow parsnip [40,54]. In low elevation riparian areas
it is an important food for grizzly bear, especially in the spring
[43,52,81,88]. In Glacier National Park, cow parsnip comprised 15
percent of grizzly bear total diet volume, spring through fall, in
1967-1971 and 1982-1985 [43]. In Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta,
grizzly feeding sites were examined from June to early August; 77
percent of the cropped umbelliferous plants were cow parsnip (stems,
petioles, and blossoms) [28]. Black bear in Alberta cow parsnip in
summer [37].

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Nutritional Value

Cow parsnip nutritional values are rated as follows [15,29]:

UT CO WY MT

elk good ---- poor good
mule deer good ---- good good
white-tailed deer good ---- good
pronghorn poor ---- poor poor
upland game birds fair ---- fair fair
waterfowl poor ---- poor fair
small nongame birds fair ---- fair poor
small mammals good ---- fair poor

Energy and protein content ratings of cow parsnip are poor [15].

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Palatability

Palatability ratings for cow parsnip are as follows [15]:

CO MT ND UT

cattle good good good good
sheep good good good fair
horses good good good fair

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: The name Heracleum lanatum is used for this species in some references. LEM 2Dec94.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Common Names

cow parsnip
common cow parsnip

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Synonyms

Heracleum maximum Bartr. [26,39,46,80]
H. sphondylium L. var. lanatum (Michx.) Dorn [18,78]
H. s. ssp. montanum (Schleich) Briq. [15,26,78]

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The currently accepted scientific name of cow parsnip is Heracleum
lanatum Michx. (Apiaceae) [36,42,63,68,82]. There are no recognized
infrataxa.

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