Get Ready to Eat That Hideous Plant: Cow Parsnip

Cows parsnip, or sorghum would be easy to eat — if it weren’t for the thousands of tons of water they need to produce. Cow parsnip also grows on low and sandy soils where…

Get Ready to Eat That Hideous Plant: Cow Parsnip

Cows parsnip, or sorghum would be easy to eat — if it weren’t for the thousands of tons of water they need to produce. Cow parsnip also grows on low and sandy soils where water is scarce. To be safe, Cows parsnip should not be eaten anywhere near a long fence line. However, the city finds that people with water are still getting their hands on it by driving across barbed wire fences surrounding the fields.

What some might describe as a hidden scourge, the raw material is actually a pretty large and useful crop. The parsnip makes an ideal source of charcoal as a means to reduce smoke from a fire.

According to a statement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, this growing problem is getting worse, thanks to a property owner that needs to make sure his cows aren’t short on water. The city is enforcing two different restraining orders against the arborist, who uses a ladder to mount the plants out of season and confiscates them from passerby. “The case underscores how little we know about this particular plant,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We can take steps to contain it without unnecessarily harming our environment.”

Here’s a $15 stock photo to help explain it:

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