cow parsnip


: a tall biennial or perennial herb (genus Heracleum and especially H. sphondylium of Eurasia and H. maximum synonym H. lanatum of North America) of the carrot family that has a hollow stem, thick taproot, and large clusters of usually white-flowered umbels see also giant cow parsnip

Examples of cow parsnip in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On an afternoon walk through the Alaska Botanical Garden in East Anchorage, Monterusso pointed out blue and purple monkshood plants, and also a few other common plants in Alaska that can cause problems for the unaware, such as devil’s club and cow parsnip. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Aug. 2023 Other plants that look similar include poison hemlock (which is toxic if ingested) as well as wild parsnip, cow parsnip, and Queen Anne’s lace, all of which can cause skin reactions—although typically not nearly as severe as those caused by giant hogweed. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 24 Aug. 2023 The plant has small groups of white flowers in an umbrella formation, similar to a common yarrow or cow parsnip, the city said. Dallas News, 21 July 2022 Modern testing has revealed that other herbs and plants recommended by ancient authors, such as cow parsnip and the wild yam called Barbasco root, contain chemicals that can influence hormone levels. Sophie Bushwick, Discover Magazine, 29 June 2012 Wild parsnip, a smaller relative to cow parsnip, grows about 5 feet tall and has thin, yellow-green stems. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Aug. 2021 The plant also grows along roadsides, but unlike poison hemlock, cow parsnip is also found in woodlands and grasslands. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Aug. 2021 Its stalks are topped with clusters of yellow flowers, similar to those of cow parsnip and poison hemlock except for the color. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Aug. 2021 White flower clusters bloom from mid-May through July and can easily be confused with native cow parsnip., 13 July 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cow parsnip.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cow parsnip was in 1548

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Cite this Entry

“Cow parsnip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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