Heracleum maximum, 6′ high x 2′ wide / full sun to light shade / zone 4
This giant perennial vegetable was used by the natives throughout its range, which stretches from Ontario to the Pacific Ocean. The young shoots are peeled and eaten raw or cooked; they have a strong, unique flavour, much revered by some. The plant itself makes a spectacular garden specimen, bearing large umbel-shaped flowers atop tall stalks. The stems and leaves contain furocoumarins, or chemicals that can burn the skin if exposed to sunlight, so caution should be used when harvesting. The plants self-seed freely if they’re happy.