Wild Parsnip - Pastinaca sativa
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This member of the parsnip or umbel family has escaped from cultivation and is common throughout the northern United States and Canada, from British Columbia to California and Vermont, and south to Florida. In Illinois, wild parsnip has become a serious problem in some mesic prairies, and it has been recorded from every county.
Wild parsnip can cause phytophotodermatitis to the skin. If the plant juices come in contact with skin in the presence of sunlight, a rash and/or blistering can occur, as well as skin discoloration that may last several months.
This species reproduces readily from seed. Seeds are fairly large and many are produced on one plant. As a monocarpic perennial, wild parsnip spends one or more years as a basal rosette. When conditions are favorable, it flowers, produces seed, and dies. Look for the large, coarse, flower spikes and yellow flowers from the first of June to the middle of July (although some plants may continue flowering through late summer). Optimal growing conditions apparently stimulate an increase in flowering. Apparently seeds take at least three weeks from flowering to become viable.
Wild parsnip slowly invades an area in waves following initial infestation. Once the population builds, it spreads rapidly. This species is an aggressive, Eurasian weed that frequently invades and modifies a variety of open habitats.
Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers