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Wild Parsnip

Photo by April Senften

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Common Name: Wild parsnip
Scientific Name: Pastinaca sativa
Origin: Europe and Asia


Wild parsnip is a biennial herb that grows to 2-5 ft. Alternate, compound, branched leaves have serrated edges. First year rosettes have pinnately compound leaves. Adult plants bloom June through August with small, five-petaled, yellow flowers arranged in a flat-topped, broad umbel of 2-6″.


Wild parsnip thrives in full sun and grows along roadsides, fields, fence rows and waste areas.


Skin contact with wild parsnip’s caustic sap can result in severe blistering that lasts for several weeks. Infestations in agricultural fields can also degrade hay and other crop values.


CAUTION – This plant has sap that can cause severe skin irritation, blistering and scarring. Be sure to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when managing this plant. For individual plants, digging or root cutting can be effective. For larger infestations, mowing while in flower and before seed set can be effective, as well as selective herbicide treatments.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart