Weed Seed: Pastinaca sativa (Wild parsnip)

Family

Apiaceae

Common Name

Wild parsnip

Regulation

Secondary Noxious, Class 3 in the Canadian Weed Seeds Order, 2016, 2016 under the Seeds Act.

Distribution

Canadian: Occurs in all Canadian provinces and territories except NU (Brouillet et al. 2016Footnote 1).

Worldwide: Native to Europe and western temperate Asia (USDA-ARS 2016Footnote 2). Naturalized in southern Africa, eastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, North America and parts of South America (USDA-ARS 2016Footnote 2). It is widespread in the United States, except in the southeast (USDA-NRCS 2016Footnote 3).

Duration of life cycle

Biennial

Seed or fruit type

Schizocarp, divided into 2 mericarps

Identification features

Size

  • Mericarp length: 3.5 - 4.5 mm
  • Mericarp width: 4.5 - 6.0 mm

Shape

  • Mericarp is oval-shaped, flattened

Surface Texture

  • Mericarp is smooth, slightly wrinkled on dorsal side

Colour

  • Mericarp is straw-yellow with reddish oil ducts

Other Features

  • The dorsal side has four oil ducts that extend almost the length of the mericarp and three thin, arched ribs between them
  • The ventral side of the mericarp has two oil ducts and no ribs

Habitat and Crop Association

Pastures, gardens, old fields, riverbanks, railway embankments, roadsides, field edges and disturbed areas (Cain et al. 2010Footnote 4, Darbyshire 2003Footnote 5).

General Information

Wild parsnip is believed to be naturalized from cultivation and possibly from seed contamination (Cain et al. 2010Footnote 4). Cultivated parsnip was first documented in Canada in 1612 and by the late-1700s, this species was found established in a wild state around historical European settlements in eastern Canada (Cain et al. 2010Footnote 4).

Similar species

Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum)

  • The fruits of cow parsnip are a similar flat oval shape, straw yellow colour with reddish oil ducts as wild parsnip.
  • Wild parsnip fruits can be up to half as long as cow parsnip. The oil ducts of cow parsnip fruits reach almost to the base, and the dorsal ribs are not as prominent as wild parsnip.

Photos

Figure 1 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps
Figure 2 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps
Figure 3 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps, nner face (L), outer face (R)
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps, inner face (L), outer face (R)
Figure 4 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps, inner face (L), outer face (R)
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarp
Figure 5 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps, inner face (L) and outer face (R)
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) mericarps, inner face (L) and outer face (R)
Figure 6 - Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) seed head
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) seed head

Similar species

Figure 7 - Similar species: Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum) mericarps
Similar species: Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum) mericarps
Figure 8 - Similar species: Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum) mericarp, outer side
Similar species: Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium subsp. montanum) mericarp, outer side
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