Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip - Photo credit: Kitty Kobout for Wisconsin State HerbariumWild Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa L.) are very common in many parts of Vermont. The plants grow wild along roadsides and other unmaintained areas, and produce yellow flowers that appear similar to Queen Anne’s Lace.

Avoid skin contact with Wild Parsnip

Although this is the same plant as the common garden parsnip we eat in soups and stews, the flower heads are the second year growth from the carrot-like roots. It is a close relative of carrots, parsley, angelica, and giant hogweed, all of which can cause similar skin reactions in sensitive individuals.

Wild parsnips produce a sap, or plant juice, that can cause burns to the skin in the presence of sunlight. In some cases, the burns are similar to second-degree sunburns, and can cause painful rashes and raised blisters.

The Department of Health advises people to avoid the sap or juice produced by the wild parsnip. Avoid skin and eye contact with this sap. If you need to work with the plant:

If you get sap on your skin:


First year plant - Photo credit: Joseph DiTomaso for UC Davis
First Year Plant (basal rosette)

More Information

Wild Parsnip

County Distribution of Wild Parsnip in Vermont
USDA Plants Profile Database

Wild Parsnip Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Vermont General Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Agency of Natural Resources

Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation

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