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Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa


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Wild Parsnip
credit: Copyright Malcolm Storey/CCSA

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Family: Apiaceae, Carrot view all from this family

Description Introduced biennial. Height: 1-5'. Habit: erect, with ridged stems, alternate. Leaf: pinnate, with 5-15 ovate to oblong leaflets with saw-toothed edges and deep lobes, each 2-4" long. Flower: coarse flat compound umbel, soft yellow, 4-8" diameter. The side umbels can grow to become taller than the central umbel, which blooms first. Long taproot.

Warning Plant juices can cause skin irritation; exposure to sun after contact causes blistering and discoloration of the skin.

Flower June-July.

Habitat Disturbed sunny sites such as old fields, roadsides, pastures.

Range With the exception of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, wild parsnip is found throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, and non-arctic Canada. Native to Europe and Asia.

Discussion This is the wild form of cultivated parsnip. It spreads aggressively and is classified as a noxious weed or invasive species by many states. All parts of the plant can cause severe skin irritation.