Weed Watch – Wild Parsnip

Weed management professional Mike Bald with a large wild parsnip plant.
Big and yellow are the main identifying characteristics of wild parsnip. Photo courtesy Mike Bald

This update comes from NOFA member Mike Bald, a professional invasive species manager and founder of the website Got Weeds?.

Mike urges farmers and gardeners to be aware of the plants around you while working and weeding, especially in hedgerows, on field edges, and near roadsides. Poison ivy is not the only plant that stakes a claim to openings where sunlight offers opportunity. While poison ivy has become more aggressive and potent with increasing CO2 levels, you should learn to recognize wild parsnip as well. Parsnip is a big plant, tall with yellow flowers typically full open in July. The sap causes serious burns to skin when exposed to sunlight, so control work is not to be taken lightly.

The stem often exceeds an inch in diameter and heights can top six feet. Children in particular should learn to recognize and avoid these plants. The Vermont Department of Health has more information and recommendations about wild parsnip. Be safe, and enjoy your activities.

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