Cow Parsnip Seeds

Cow Parsnip | Heracleum lanatum
Cow Parsnip | Heracleum maximum

While out on a family walk at Rosewall Creek Provincial Park south of Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island we discovered a small patch of Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum). Some caution is advised with this plant due to the furanocoumarins in the outer skin that can cause skin irritation when handled by people who are sensitive to light.

Northwest coastal First Nations groups did eat the inner stalks of young plants after peeling off the outer skin. Apparently it has a sweet taste and mild flavour, hence the coastal name “Indian Celery.” As with any wild edible it is strongly recommended that you know exactly what you’re eating – the similar looking (though much bigger) introduced Giant Cow-Parsnip or Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) can cause extreme phototoxicity when handled.