# Are You Taller Than a Cow Parsnip?: Measuring in Units of Nature

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)

I am so grateful for such a wonderful paradise on Mount Lemmon, being so close to the desert, and being surrounded by a beautiful community.  What a better place to go learn mathematics because there is math everywhere on the mountain.  What a great time to be up on Mount Lemmon and go exploring!

One of my favorite plants on the mountain is the Cow Parsnip.  These are my favorite wonders of the area!  Cow Parsnips remind me of a child where they begin as small little ones and grow above and beyond 5 feet tall, or close to it.  So I guess the big question is, are you taller than a Cow Parsnip?

What is great about being outdoors is that plants do not know what inches, centimeters, or feet are.  In Nature, there is an abundance of resources use to measure and one of these can be the Cow Parsnip of course! So go for a wonderful walk and look for one of these beauties.  Stand up next to one and measure yourself.  Who is taller, you or the Cow Parsnip?

Take the kids out for a walk and see how they measure against these wonderful giants.  Start using the words of comparison like, “shorter than”, or “taller than”.  How many of you would take to be as tall as the Cow Parsnip?  What about the blossoms?  How many blossoms would it take to be the length of your hand?  How about the width of your hand?  Take a look at those leaves!  How many of your hands would it take to be the same length, or width of those leaves?

This is cute and all, but how does learning Mathematics really measure up to the “real” world?  Take a child, for instance, maybe that child is sad because he/she hasn’t grown as tall as everyone else, but take a look at the Cow Parsnip with how small the Cow Parsnip began.  The Cow Parsnip starts out tiny and then shoots up to be taller than any other flowering plant I know.

Success can be measured using blossoms and stalks of plants, or the number of tree rings a tree can have in a lifetime.  Nature has so many opportunities where we can learn and explore in Mathematics.  What I would like everyone to get out of these posts is that the world of Mathematics encompasses more than what we can imagine.  The earlier we start our kids and grandkids in interacting and learning from Nature, the more they will have more reason to protect what is treasured by the rest of us.