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Wild Parsnip

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Wild Parsnip Wild Parsnip

  • Why should we care?
    • Wild Parsnip is notorious for the juices in the plant that contain chemicals that cause intense burning, fierce blisters and burning rashes on skin especially once exposed to sunlight. Skin discoloration from these rashes can last months, even if treated. It invades slowly, but once established it spreads rapidly and can severely modify dry, moist, and wet-moist habitats. Wild Parsnip is an aggressive weed that is quickly invading our roadsides, native prairies and private properties. This invasive weed blooms June through September and actions need to be taken to control infestations.
  • How to Identify
    • The leaves have an alternate leaf arrangement and are innately compound with serrate margins or sometimes-deep lobes. This weed grows 2 to 5 feet tall, most often over 4 feet, and has a light green hollow stem. The flowers are yellow, small and arranged in an umbel at the tops of the stem. Wild Parsnip looks similar to Golden Alexander (Zizea Aurea) a native plant that is easily distinguished by its smaller size, usually less than 2 feet, with smaller stems and fewer flowers.
  • About the Plant and Where it came from
    • Pastinaca sativa
    • Wild parsnip is in the Apiaceae family also known as the Carrot or Parsley family. This perennial plant native to Eurasia has escaped from cultivation and poses a great threat to native plant communities.
    • Wild Parsnip reproduces from seed, with seeds remaining viable in the soil for up to 4 years. There may be hundreds of flowers on one plant, which gives this plant the advantage to be extremely invasive. If proper control methods are not implemented before Wild Parsnip produces seed it will pose a threat to the area and native species within the area.  
  • How to Control
    • Cultural Control: Includes prescribed burning to encourage good growth of other desirable plants, pulling or clipping at ground level before seed set, or digging up rosettes. Repeated mowing after flowering will prevent seed production. Early season mowing without follow-up mowing may favor wild parsnip. Late season mowing may disperse seeds that can germinate before winter. Spring burning is not effective unless used in combination with herbicide application because Wild Parsnip rosettes will be one of the first plants to green up after the burn allowing easier detection and treatment.
    • Chemical Control: Entails applying glyphosate (Round-Up) to basal rosettes in late fall when most native plants are dormant. Spot application of glyphosate or selective metsulfuron –methyl (Ally, Allie, Gropper, and Escort) after a prescribed burn in the spring. Apply 2, 4-D to rosettes March through May or August through October.
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