I’ve mentioned our native Cow Parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium) and Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) in past posts because they can be mistaken for Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). But today I thought I would write about them specifically. They are two very interesting plants and they provide much needed nourishment for our pollinators fairly early in the season.
Named for Hercules, in my yard Cow Parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium) grows about eight feet tall. It’s seed heads are just as interesting as its flowers, and because of its “large size of its compound umbels, Cow Parsnip is one of the best sources of nectar and pollen for a wide variety of insects, especially small bees, wasps, flies, and beetles.” (Illinois Wildflowers)
Besides also being tall, the reddish-purple stems of the Angelica (Angelica archangelica) give it that special look. Attracted by the nectar, “Syrphid flies, bee flies, Andrenid bees, and other small bees” use its flowers, while insects such as “aphids Aphis thaspii and Cavariella konoi, caterpillars of Papaipema birdi (Umbellifer Borer Moth) and Papaipema harrisii (Cow Parsnip Borer Moth), and caterpillars of the butterfly Papilio polyxenes asterius (Black Swallowtail)” actually feed on on the plant. (Illinois Wildflowers)
Note: Click on photos in gallery to enlarge and then click again.