Definition of cowbane in English:



  • Any of a number of tall poisonous plants of the parsley family, growing in swampy or wet habitats.

    a North American plant (Oxypolis rigidior, family Umbelliferae).

    another term for water hemlock

    • ‘Here and there lurks the rare and extremely poisonous cowbane, a treacherous relative to carrots and parsley.’
    • ‘Ideal soils for Canby's dropwort (aka cowbane) have a medium to high organic content and a high water table.’
    • ‘Likewise, it's quite futile to search for daftodi (a plant of the mountains) in a swamp or cowbane in the desert.’
    • ‘To further explore the location of cowbane, I followed the path of water flowing from the ditches.’
    • ‘A couple who have become concerned over the rapid spread of cowbane, have launched their own campaign to root out the plant.’


Late 18th century: from cow + bane, because it is poisonous to grazing cattle.