Wild Parsnip

Wild parsnip

 (Pastinaca sativa)
*Detected in Michigan*

Report this species:

Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone - http://www.misin.msu.edu/tools/apps/#home

 

A wild parsnip plant in bloom in a field

Photo by Kitty Kouhout

yellow wild parsnip flower

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Wild parsnip leaf on gravel

Ohio State Weed Lab Archive, Ohio State University

Identification:

  • Biennial flowering herb on a single stem that grows to 5 feet tall
  • Leaves consist of 2 to 5 pairs of leaflets that grow across from each other along the stem, and one diamond-shaped leaflet on the end 
  • Leaflets are toothed and often shaped like a mitten
  • Yellowish green flowers form umbrella-shaped clusters 4 to 8 inches across
  • Flowers bloom in June and July
  • Stem is green, 1-2 inches thick and smooth with few hairs

Habitat: Wild parsnip tolerates a range of soils and moisture levels but requires sun.  Often found in open areas, pastures, fields, roadsides and disturbed areas.

Native Range: Eurasia

U.S. Distribution:  Wild parsnip is widespread throughout the U.S. excepting Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii.

Local Concern: Wild parsnip spreads aggressively through seeds carried by wind, water and equipment.  Stem, leaves, and flowers contain chemicals that can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight and cause severe rash or blistering.  Plant chemicals are known to reduce weight gain and fertility in livestock that eat wild parsnip.

Look-Alikes:  Other members of the carrot family, including cow parsnip, angelica and Queen Anne’s lace, are often misidentified as wild parsnip.  Take the time to review similar plants before reporting this species. 

MORE INFORMATION:

Wild Parsnip Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF