Common Name: Wild Parsnip
Scientific Name: Pastinaca sativa L.
Efforts must be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by the county or local municipality. Minnesota Noxious Weed Law.
Wild parsnip is native to Europe and Asia. It was brought to North America by European settlers and grown as a root vegetable. Over time, it escaped from cultivation, and is now common throughout the US.
Wild parsnip is most commonly found along road and rail rights-of-way. It is also found invading a variety of disturbed landscapes including trails, natural areas, pastures, forest and field margins, waste areas, unmaintained gravel pits, and idle lands. It can tolerate dry, mesic, or wet soils, but does not grow in shaded areas.
This plant spreads primarily by rhizomes and seeds. Seeds remain viable in the soil for several years. It is found commonly throughout Minnesota, with the highest populations in the southeastern region. View wild parsnip distribution in Minnesota.
Wild parsnip is highly invasive and if ignored can spread rapidly, developing into large monocultures that replace native animal and plant habitat. It reduces the quality of agricultural forage crops and can negatively impact livestock if ingested. The plant sap contains toxic chemicals that are activated by sunlight and can cause serious burns and blisters to human skin after contact.
Wild parsnip causes phytophotodermatitis-- when skin comes in contact with plant sap in the presence of sunlight, it can cause severe rashes, blisters, and discoloration of skin. Appropriate protective clothing including gloves, long sleeves, and long pants should be worn and direct contact with the plant should be avoided. If sap comes in contact with skin, avoid exposure to sunlight, immediately wash skin with soap and water, and seek medical attention.
MDA Noxious Weed Program
County Ag Inspectors