Pastinaca sativa - L.
Wild Parsnip
Other Common Names: wild parsnip
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pastinaca sativa L. (TSN 29795)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.149999
Element Code: PDAPI1M010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Carrot Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Apiales Apiaceae Pastinaca
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Pastinaca sativa
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Mar1994
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (21Sep2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Found in open places along roadsides and in waste places throughout the northern United States and Canada, from British Columbia to California and Vermont south to Florida. It endures a wide range of edaphic conditions, usually dry to mesic soils, but occasionally will be found in wet meadows. Grows best on calcareous, alkaline soils.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Found in open places along roadsides and in waste places throughout the northern United States and Canada, from British Columbia to California and Vermont south to Florida. It endures a wide range of edaphic conditions, usually dry to mesic soils, but occasionally will be found in wet meadows. Grows best on calcareous, alkaline soils.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AKexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Pastinaca sativa is a tall, stout monocarpic perennial of the parsley family.
Technical Description: Pastinaca sativa is a tall, stout monocarpic perennial of the parsley family, Umbelliferae (Ammiaceae in Rydberg 1971) with a thick taproot and a grooved stem. The pinnately compound leaves have broad, sessile, ovate to oblong, lobed and incised or dentate leaflets. Flowers are yellow and in large umbels. The fruit is broadly oval, glabrous, dorsally flattened with filiform dorsal ribs, and lateral ribs extending into broad wings with small, solitary oil tubes in the intervals (Fernald 1951, Rydberg 1971).
Reproduction Comments: The following life history information is from Baskin and Baskin (1979). Seedlings emerge from February through April, form rosettes and grow vegetatively for one or more years before they form an aerial shoot ("bolt") and flower. During vegetative growth the plant continuously produces and loses leaves; over winter the above ground tissues dies back leaving only one or two partially expanded leaves on each plant. Rosettes must reach a critical size before vernalization will effect flowering. Flowering occurs from mid-May to mid-June and seeds are mature by early July. The primary umbel on the main stem begins to develop and produce seed one to two weeks before the secondary umbels on lateral branches. The plant dies as the seeds mature, leaving the dead shoot standing through the winter. Seed dispersal normally occurs in autumn through late November, but many areas with P. sativa are mowed in late summer and seeds are often released as the shoots are cut. Newly mature seeds are inhibited from germination by summer temperatures. Stratification over winter increases germination ability and seeds germinate in early spring. Seedling mortality is high with less than 1% of newly emerged seedlings surviving to reproduce.
Ecology Comments: The lepidopteran Depressaria pastinacella (parsnip webworm) is the dominant herbivore on Pastinaca (Gorder and Mertens 1984, Thompson 1978). The adult webworm lays eggs on unopened umbels from mid-May to early June. The larva then builds a web on the umbel and feeds on the flowers and developing seeds. The mature larva bores into a large stem at the base of the plant to pupate over winter, and the adults emerge the following July (Gorder and Mertens 1984).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Pastinaca sativa can be controlled by hand-digging along paths, roadsides, and other bare areas, and prairie edges. Flowering plants should be chopped off below the ground before seed set. Where it occurs on recovering prairies the best management may be simply to encourage good prairie growth. After a spring burn, parsnip is among the first plants to emerge and may be easily detected and dug out to control abundance along prairie edges. Mowing decreases competitive ability of companion species and increases density of flowering parsnip stems.
Species Impacts: Pastinaca sativa invades disturbed bare areas, especially those with calcareous soils. It is an undesirable exotic weed and produces a compound that causes severe blistering and discoloration on contact with the skin on sunny days, a condition known as photodermatitis. In infested areas it regularly occurs along paths and roadsides where eradication is desirable from a human safety as well as ecological standpoint. Well-established prairies are not likely to be invaded by parsnip, but it can become quite abundant on prairie edges and in disturbed patches within otherwise high quality prairies. It is also highly persistent on sites that remain disturbed or bare such as rocky areas, paths, or roadsides.
Management Requirements: Wild parsnip can become abundant along roadsides that are regularly mowed as mowing seems to encourage the production of flowering plants. If mowing occurs too early (in June or early July), the plants may resprout and still have time to flower and set seed; if too late in July, the primary umbel may have mature seeds that will germinate after cutting. Mowing also stresses other species that have the potential to be good competitors against parsnip, such as Solidago spp. Kline (1986) tested annual mowing of parsnip in July before seed set over a six- year period and observed increases in the abundance of flowering plants in the mowed plots, but a steady decline in parsnip density in the unmowed control plot. The common goldenrod, Solidago altissima, was abundant in all plots at the start of the experiment. The July mowing reduced density, height, and flowering of the goldenrod, allowing more sunlight to reach immature parsnip seedlings. The steady decline in parsnip density in the unmowed plot suggested that in situations where other plants are able to offer competition, the best parsnip control measure is to do nothing (Kline 1986).

Where P. sativa occurs on a recovering prairie, the best treatment may be to simply encourage good prairie growth. For example, prescribed burning encourages the growth of native grasses, which in turn outcompete and eventually displace the wild parsnip (Kline 1987).

For small patches, weeding with a shovel is the best control measure. Flowering plants should be chopped off just below ground level before seed set. Care should be taken to avoid contact with the plant tissues. Wear gloves, long pants, and sleeves. Since the plants do not all flower at once, the area should be rechecked several weeks after the first cutting. The vegetative rosettes can also be dug up if enough labor is available, otherwise, the area should be revisited the following year to remove any newly flowering plants.

Burning removes litter and taller plants allowing parsnip rosettes to develop rapidly. When present, wild parsnip rosettes are among the first plants to green up after an early spring burn and they become easy to detect and dig up with a shovel.

The parsnip webworm damages some individual plants severely, but is not known to devastate whole patches and is not likely to be useful as a biocontrol agent (Martin 1987).

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring may be necessary when parsnip occurs on highly disturbed areas where other species are not likely to become established and offer competition (railroad right-of-ways, rocky calcareous areas, paths and roadsides). Control is labor-intensive (usually hand-pulling) and can be difficult and time consuming if patches are allowed to build unchecked.

Monitoring is usually accomplished through simple qualitative observations of known infestations.


Management Programs: The following individuals are familiar with wild parsnip. Control is achieved mainly by hand-pulling.

Virginia Kline, University of Wisconsin Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Hwy., Madison, WI 53711. 608-263-7344.

Mark Martin, Natural Areas Management Specialist, Wisconsin DNR, Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. 608-266-8916.

Management Research Needs: Research is not considered a priority since parsnip does not invade high quality natural areas.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low/Insignificant
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Pastinaca sativa is widespread throughout the U.S. and may continue to escape from cultivation, however, it rarely invades intact, healthy natural communities, is not very aggressive, and is relatively easy to control, especially if caught early. It should be watched locally because under favorable conditions it can colonize open patches and spread from there, replacing native species.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 18May2006
Evaluator: Davis, G.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Throughout Europe into western, temperate Asia to Siberia (GRIN 2006).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Pastinaca sativa frequently invades and modifies open, disturbed habitats and is found in conditions including dry, mesic, and wet-mesic prairies, oak openings, and calcareous fens (Czarapata 2005). However, there is clear evidence of the species invading natural areas only in the northern prairies states; for example, it is primarily a problem in southeastern Minnesota in prairies and oak openings (Wisconsin DNR 2004, Minnesota DNR 2006). Pastinaca sativa is not likely to invade well-established prairies, but it can become abundant on edges and in disturbed patches within otherwise high quality prairies and it can persist in areas that remain disturbed or bare such as rocky areas, paths, or roadsides (Eckardt 1987).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No effect on system processes mentioned in literature.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No perceivable influence on community structure menioned in literature.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Moderate significance
Comments: In disturbed sites where Pastinaca sativa colonizes, it can invade in waves and once the population builds, it spreads rapidly, severely modifying the habitat (Wisconsin DNR 2006, Minnesota DNR 2006).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No known reports of disproportionate effects on a particular native species.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Pastinaca sativa is not likely to invade well-established prairies, but it can become abundant on edges and in disturbed patches within otherwise high quality prairies and it can persist in areas that remain disturbed or bare such as rocky areas, paths, or roadsides (Eckardt 1987). It is found in dry, mesic, and wet-mesic priries, oak openings, and calcareous fens (Czarapata 2001).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Pastinaca sativa occurs throughout the U.S., except in the most southeastern states, ranging north into Canada and Alaska (Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Low significance
Comments: Although Pastinaca sativa appears to have naturalized throughout the U.S. (e.g., Cronquist et al. 1997, Gleason and Cronquist 1991, Correll and Johnston 1970), it appears to be a problem to intact natural areas only in the northern midwest. For example, the Wisconsin DNR describes it as occurring in dry, mesic, and wet-mesic prairies; oak openings; and calcareous fens (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2004) and in Minnesota
it is not likely to invade well established prairies, but it readily moves into disturbed habitats along edges and or in disturbed patches; it invades slowly, but once population builds it spreads rapidly and can severely modify open dry, moist, and wet-moist habitats; it is primarily a problem in southeastern Minnesota in prairies and oak openings (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2006). The species is reported as invasive in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin (Swearingen 2006).However, in Tennessee it is considered a "lesser threat...not presently a threat to native plant communties" (Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council 2004); in Virginia it is listed as an "Occasionally Invasive Species" (Occasionally invasive species generally do not affect ecosystem processes but may alter plant community composition by outcompeting one or more native plant species. They often establish in severely disturbed areas. The disturbance may be natural or human origin, such as icestorm damage, windthrow, or road construction. These species spread slowly or not at all from disturbed sites.) (Virginia Native Plant Society and Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation 2003);


8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: The species occurs in dry, mesic, and wet-mesic prairies; oak openings; and calcareous fens (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2004).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: The species already occupies most of the region.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Insignificant
Comments: Pastinaca sativa could expand its range in the central plains states and Texas.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Seeds are not noted for natural long distance dispersal, however the species is commonly cultivated and may escape (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance
Comments: Pastinaca sativa is not likely to invade well-established prairies, but it can become quite abundant on prairie edges and in disturbed patches within otherwise high quality prairies; it is also highly persistent on sites that remain disturbed or bare such as rocky areas, paths, or roadsides (Eckardt 1987).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Unknown
Comments: Also naturalized in southern Africa, temperate Asia, Australia, New Zealand, southern South America, and Canada (USDA 2006). In western Australia it occurs in black peaty sand on edges of swamps and drains (Western Australian Herbarium 2006). No other information found regarding habitat types invaded.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Low significance
Comments: The species spends one or more years as a rosette, it then flowers once before it dies; a single plant can produce hundreds of flowers, each of which produces many seeds which take three weeks to ripen (Wisconsin DNR 2004) and can remain in the seedbank up to four years (Minnesota DNR 2006). The species reproduces only from seed.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Low significance
Comments: The best way to control Pastinaca sativa is to maintain the health of the prairie, however if it does colonize it can be mechanically removed after flowering and before seed set by digging out just below-ground; it can also be mowed or chemically controlled over larger areas, although repeated treatments and careful timing are necessary to achieve eradication and mowing has been shown to increase populations, possibly by decreasing native competitors (Eckardt 1987, Schaefer 2005). Extreme caution must be used in mechanical removal because plant juices contain a phototoxic chemical which causes blistering and rash when contacted skin is exposed to sunlight (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2004).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Mowing and herbicides used to control Pastinaca sativa can impact native species; individual plant removal can be performed with limited impact (Eckardt 1987).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Insignificant
Comments: Pastinaca sativa is usually found in open areas.
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Jul1987
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Nancy Eckardt
Management Information Edition Date: 23Jul1987
Management Information Edition Author: Nancy Eckardt

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Baskin, J.M., and C.M. Baskin. 1979b. Studies on the autecolocy and population biology of the weedy monocarpic perennial, Pastinaca sativa. Journal Ecology 67:601-610.

  • Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner. 1881 pp.

  • Cronquist, A., A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, P.K. Holmgren. 1997. Intermountain Flora, Volume 3, Part A Subclass Rosidae (except Fabales). The New York Botanical Gardens. Bronx, New York. 446 pp.

  • Eckardt, N. 1987. Element stewardship abstract for Pastinaca sativa, Wild parsnip. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. Available: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/documnts/pastsat.html. (Accessed 2006).

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Gorder, N.K.N. and J.W. Mertens. 1984. Life history of the parsnip webworm, Depressaria pastinacella (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae), in central Iowa. Ann. Ent. S.A. 77(5): 568-573.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kline, V.M. 1986. Effects of mowing on wild parsnip; six-year study (Wisconsin). Restoration and Management Notes 4(2):82-83.

  • Meades, S.J. & Hay, S.G; Brouillet, L. 2000. Annotated Checklist of Vascular Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial University Botanical Gardens, St John's NF. 237pp.

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 2006. Wild parsnip (Pastinacea sativa). Online fact sheet: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/wildparsnip.html. Last accessed May 8, 2006.

  • Rydberg, P. A. 1971. Flora of the prairies and plains of central North America. Dover Publications, N.Y. 503 pp. 2 vol.

  • Schaefer, K. 2005. Wild parsnip - a weed to watch. In: Horticulture and Pest News July 13, 2005. Electronic version published by Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Available: http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/2005/7-13/wildparsnip.html. Accessed 2006.

  • Swearingen, J. 2006. Alien plant invaders of natural areas. Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group. Available: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/list/ (Accessed 2006)

  • Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2004. Invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee - 2004. Available: http://www.tneppc.org/TNEPPC2004PlantList-8x11.pdf. Accessed 2005.

  • Thompson, J.N. 1978. Within-patch structure and dynamics in Pastinaca sativa and resource availability to a specialized herbivore. Ecology 59:443-448.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. No date. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov2/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?409853. (Accessed 2006).

  • Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR). 2003. September-last update. List of invasive alien plant species of Virginia. Available: http://www.vnps.org/invasive.html.

  • Western Australian Herbarium. No date. FloraBase The Western Australia Flora. Available online: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/ Accessed 2006.

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Sept. 3, 2004 (last updated). Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Invasive Species Plants fact sheet. Online:http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/parsnip.htm

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