This, the king of the parsnips, is a regal plant. Huge, stout, massive, the. corded, hollow stems support the great broad umbels of small, snowy flowers. The leaves are among the largest found in our wild flowers, leaves which are deeply cut, hairy, enormously maple-like on a grand scale. The structural grandeur of the cow parsnip caused it to be dedicated to the giant Hercules. There is Heracleum, flower of Hercules.
Heracleum lanatum Michx.
July. Low places, roadsides.
It grows in wet places. It needs moisture to nourish all those stout Corinthian columns which are stems, all those splendid, classical, acanthus-like leaves, that broad bouquet of tiny blossoms spread almost a foot wide across the top of the flower stalk.
It is a widely distributed plant. According to Gray, it is found in wet places from Newfoundland to the Pacific and northward to North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas. That is indeed a broad range not frequently repeated by many American plants. Few of them are scattered from coast to coast in the manner of this massive plant of Hercules.
It comes in June, comes at a time when growth is lush and heat grows stronger every day. Now is the weedy time, the time when the small compactness of spring flowers is well past and only the big, the strong, and the lusty survive in the battle for space and sunlight which takes place in June. Sturdy and able to combat encroachment of other plants, the cow parsnip stands regally alone.