Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More About Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip plant
Wild Parsnip in bloom (photo by JHY)
by JHY

Due to the high interest in this topic, I've added some more information about this plant. Wild Parsnip is a common plant in almost all of the United States. When the plant stems and leaves are broken, particularly when it is in bloom, and the sap comes in contact with skin in the presence of light, a serious rash can be produced that causes lasting scars.

For starters, I went out to a place where the plant grows and got a couple of good pictures. So let's talk about identifying this easily in the field.

The flower
This plant is in the carrot family, Umbelliferae. That means that it has an umbel (a flat-topped cluster) of flowers. Think of another common member of this plant, the Queen-Anne's Lace, or Wild Carrot. But this plant has a yellow flower. There are several other similar plants with yellow flowers.

The leaves
Here is where the leaves come in. If you learn to notice the leaves of any yellow flower shaped like this, you can easily recognize the Wild Parsnip.
Wild Parsnip leaves
Wild Parsnip leaves (photo by JHY)

The Wild Parsnip leaves are the only plants with similar flowers with leaves like this. Note that the leaves are compound and strongly toothed. Compound means that there are multiple leaflets on a single stalk. Of the other choices, both Golden Alexanders and Meadow Parsnip have three-part leaves. Yellow Pimpernel does have compound leaves with many leaflets, but they are not toothed.

So, yellow flowers like Queen-Anne's lace, and compound toothed leaves, and you are good to go!

Denise, at "Life Among the Weeds in Western Wisconsin," sent the following great entry from her blog Warning, It's Wild Parsnip Season
If you are comfortable with the identification of this plant, it is edible Wild parsnip It's like raiding a garden, but better
See Wild Parsnip- Another Plant to Avoid


A.Marie said...

I never knew that this plant could cause a serious rash! If I ever run across it, I'm going to get as far away from it as I can! Jeepers, it seems that I only have to look at a weed and I get a rash! :)

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Simply touching it is not a problem like Poison Ivy, but the sap in the presence of sunlight is the problem.