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Related to heracleum maximum: Giant Hogweed, cow parsnip, Heracleum mantegazzianum, Heracleum lanatum
(an edible plant) Can grow to 8 ft tall and has similar white flower clusters to poison hemlock, but the leaves are WAY different. Cow parsnip leaves are like big maple leaves, where poison hemlock leaves look like parsley leaves. Cow parsnip stems, leaves, buds and flowers can be eaten raw, steamed or cooked. Young leaves are better than the older ones. Roots are edible, but usually way too bitter and spicy to tolerate. Dry roots first before using. Be aware that the juice that comes out of the plant when harvesting might be too strong for some people and cause a rash. Test first. Also, do not confuse this plant with giant hogweed, which looks similar and grows very tall, so become VERY familiar with the leaf differences!
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz