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Pastinaca sativa

Common Names: Wild Parsnip,
Pastinaca sativa
Pastinaca sativa

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Pastinaca
Species: Pastinaca sativa

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Wild parsnips can be be found in clusters that contain small, yellow flowers across the end of the branching stem. The flower is tiny, with five petals that curl under, and a green-yellow colored center. The leaves are compounded with 5-15 leaflets each. The leaves grow near the base of the plant on rigid stems.

Habitat & Range

Wild parsnips can be found in fields and trail-sides and is a alien species that is native to Europe. After it was introduced in North America, it is commonly found throughout the northern United States and southern Canada.


Contact with the wild parsnip sap can cause the exposed area of skin to be sensitive to the sunlight, leading to blistering and burning if kept out in the sun for too long.

Life Cycle

Wild parsnips produce hundreds of yellow flowers that bloom between May-October. The seeds mature around early July and the plant soon dies after producing seeds. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years waiting for the right growing conditions.

Featured image by James Dake.


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