Pastinaca sativa - Wild Parsnip

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Apiales - Family: Apiaceae

Wild Parsnip on a roadside

This biennial plant, a member of the family Apiaceae (the umbellifers), is the progenitor from which cultivated parsnips were derived. In appearance there are slight differences between the wild and cultivated plants, both in the leaves and most notably in the size of the roots, but in fact the roots of Wild Parsnip, although smaller, are also edible.


Railway embankments, dry roadside verges and other dry grassy locations are the preferred habitat of this summer-flowering plant, which appears to prefer alkaline soils.

Wild Parsnip flowers, closeup


Wild Parsnip can grow to a height of well over a metre and produces dense stands with umbels of bright yellow flowers in its second year.

Wild Parsnip in Wales UK

The leaves are 1-pinate, and the fruits are flattened, roundish with low ridges. Fennel, with which it could be confused, has finely divided feathery leaves.

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