Linnaeus made no mistake when he dedicated this tall, strikingly bold, and giant-like perennial to Hercules who, according to Pliny, used it in medicine. The immense hollow stalk, which is grooved, woolly and very stout, grows from four to eight feet high, and at the base it is often two inches in diameter. The large, rather thin, but coarse compound leaf has three deeply lobed and irregularly notched and toothed, broad, pointed-oval leaflets that are very hairy on the under side, and quite smooth above. The leaf is set on short, widely winged stems that clasp the stalk. The small, white, five-petalled flowers are gathered in an extensive, wide-spreading, flat-topped disk or umbel which is sometimes a foot or more broad. The outer blossoms are larger than the inner ones and their petals are deeply notched and heart-shaped. The Cow Parsnip is rank and coarse, and grows with a tropical luxuriance, in low, moist grounds, where its great white, floral heads are raised like a platter during June and July. The plant has a disagreeable odour, and the foliage and roots produce redness and inflammation when applied to the skin. The acrid roots have been used as a remedy in epileptic cases and also as a stimulant. The roots are also said to have been roasted and used as a food by the Canadian Indians, who also ate the raw leaf stems, which they called Indian Rhubarb. The Parsnip River was so named because of the abundance of these plants along its banks. The Cow Parsnip is the only important one of its genus growing in North America. It is found from Labrador and Newfoundland to Alaska, south to North Carolina, Missouri, Utah and California, and probably in Washington.