Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)
Elizabeth Horn, in Wildflowers 1 The Cascades, writes of the many ways Native Americans ate and used this member of the parsley family:
“The huge stem is edible. It may be cut before the flowers open and, with the outer covering peeled off, sliced and prepared much like rhubarb. It may also be eaten raw: the stems are sliced into very thin pieces and used as salad greens. The Pacific Indians from Alaska to California used the tender young leaves for food. It is also said that they took the basal portion of the plant, burned it, and used the ashes for salt. In addition, some Indians used a preparation made from the mashed root to alleviate a sore throat.”
The plant’s Latin name comes from the legendary Hercules; a reference to it’s size (up to eight feet!) and sturdiness.