Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.)

Wild Parsnip

(Pastinaca sativa L.)


  • Native to Europe
  • Grows up to 2m tall, leaves up to 40cm long. Leaves can be smooth or hairy, and reduce in size and number the higher they are up the stem.
  • Yellow flowers (florets) come in clusters of between and 6 and 25. Florets have five petals, which are rolled back.
  • Thick yellow-brown taproot
  • Grows in a wide variety of soil types, and moistures, but prefers dry soils with partial or full sun.

Consequences of Invasion

  • Can grow in thick patches that outcompete native species.
  • WARNING! Skin contact with leaves or stems can cause photosensitivity (photodermatitis), which can result in severe blistering when exposed to sunlight.
  • Leaves and stems are toxic to livestock.

Integrated Pest Management Options

  • Prevention: Do not let plants go to seed – seeds can attach to vehicles and ‘hitchhike’ to new areas.
  • Mechanical: Hand pulling (using gloves and long sleeves) is effective for small patches. Mowing before the plants go to seed can prevent further spread.
  • All landfills within the RDCK and RDKB accept invasive plant species for free. Ensure your material is bagged in clear plastic bags and notify the attendant that you have invasive plant species. Plants must be identifiable through the bag. For more information please see the RDCK Resource Recovery Bylaw
  • Chemical: herbicide treatment is available, click here for more information.
  • Biological: None to date

More Information Available

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