Common cowparsnip

Heracleum maximum Bartr.

Family: Apiaceae (carrot)

  • Bloom Period:
    • Early,
  • Growth Cycle:
    • Perennial,
  • Growth Habit:
    • Forbs/Herbs,
  • Insect Type Attracted:
    • Natural Enemy,
    • Pollinator,
  • Light:
    • Full,
    • Partial,
  • Region:
    • Northern Lower Peninsula,
    • Southern Lower Peninsula,
    • Upper Peninsula,
  • Soil Moisture:
    • Medium,
    • Wet
  • Height:
    • 3-6ft

Natural enemies attracted

Moderately attractive: Chalcidoidea and Orius insidiosus.

Mildly attractive: Cynipoidea, Empididae, Cantharidae and Syrphidae.

Pollinators attracted

Mildly attractive: bees including yellow-faced bees and sweat bees

Pests attracted

Moderately attractive: thrips, root-maggot flies, lygus bugs and aphids.

Plant notes

Flowers are white, flat clusters up to 10 inches across. This large, stunning species grew to 3-6 ft tall under our conditions yet had excellent standability. Plants bloomed in mid-June. This plant was the sixth most attractive to natural enemies in the early season, with similar natural enemy numbers as in the grass control.


Common cowparsnips tolerates full sun to partial shade, and average to very wet soil moisture. This species naturally grows in wet meadows and thickets, in floodplains and along river banks, as well as in borders of woods.

Cultivation and management

This plant has a low success rate when grown from seed, but flowers in the second to third year. It also can be grown from plug material (It flowers in the first or second year.). We saw no evidence of deer browsing on this species, but woodchucks reportedly eat it. This plant performed well in its first year of field establishment. Although it bloomed in the second year, plants and flower clusters were smaller.