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Cowbane is one of the several white-flowered carrot species found in moist to wet places. It is most similar to Water Parsnip (Sium suave), which has 6 to 10 bracts at the base of each umbel and leaflets that are finely serrated all around the edges. Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) also has serrated leaflets, and its leaves are twice compound. Cowbane is far less common than these two species; while not currently listed as a rare species, it is not often encountered in the wild and is tracked by the DNR.
Mainly found in the northern half and the centre of Ireland, roughly from County Westmeath up, Cowbane is one of the members of the Apiaceae or Carrot family which is extremely poisonous. It is an erect and hairless perennial plant which can grow to 150 cm tall and is usually found in shallow water, ditches, margins of lakes and slow-flowing streams. The flowers are white (3 mm across) with oval calyx teeth and in domed, bractless umbels (8-13cm across). The plant has a ridged, hollow stem and quite distinctive dark green 2-3 times pinnate leaves which have hollow stalks. The narrow lobes are strongly toothed. The fruits are globular, with blunt ridges and prominent styles. This is a native plant and it blooms in July and August.Cowbane is a poisonous plant native to the Midwestern and most of the Eastern United States, spreading as south as Texas and Florida, and as north as spreading up into Canada. This herbaceous perennial is usually found growing in wet sand prairies, marshes, swamps, fens, and low areas near springs. It prefers full sun and moist soils, and can tolerate temporary flooding.
The native Cowbane is occasional in the northern half of Illinois, while in the southern half of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include openings in floodplain forests, wet sand prairies, sandy and non-sandy marshes, sandy and non-sandy swamps, fens and seeps, and low areas along springs. Cowbane is found in higher quality wetlands where much of the original native flora is still intact. Oxypolis rigidior (Stiff Cowbane) is a species of perennial herb in the family Apiaceae. They have a self-supporting growth form. They are native to Eastern North America, North America, The Contiguous United States, and Canada. They have simple, broad leaves. Flowers are visited by Chlorion, Andrena personata, Monogonogastra, and Eupsyche. Individuals can grow to 1.5 m. (Source: eol.org)