WILD PARSNIP INFORMATION
Wild Parsnip is an invasive plant that is increasingly common throughout Eastern Ontario in areas of uncultivated land, roadside ditches, nature trails, as well as on and surrounding rural and residential properties.
Wild Parsnip is of concern because humans may a severe skin irritation. The plant sap contains chemicals that may cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to severe burning and blistering when exposed to the sun.
The best way to avoid contact with Wild Parsnip is to become familiar with what the plant looks like.
Wild Parsnip is a highly branched plant, with hollow green stems. It has two growth stages: non-flowering leafy rosettes at ground level and 0.5 to 1.5 metre-tall flowering plants. In the first year of growth, low-growing non-flowering rosettes of leaves form with a cluster of spindly, compound leaves that resemble celery leaves. Second and third year plants have tall, branched flowering stalks that usually bloom in early June to late July. Seeds are flat and round. It is a biennial plant, reproducing only by seed. The seeds can lie dormant for years making it even more challenging to control.
First year Wild Parsnip leaves
Wild parsnip’s yellow flower
Photographs courtesy Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Information to assist in identifying wild parsnip can be found online at www.weedinfo.ca.
For information on the use on brand products homeowners may use for the control of weeds that are poisonous to the touch such a Wild Parsnip, please refer to The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) link:
For further information on personal protection and management options, please refer to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit information link: http://www/healthunit.org/hazards/dangerousweeds.
On Township Property
The Township of Beckwith has completed its first cut of the annual roadside mowing program and will be doing a second cut. Council will be continuing to look at best practices going forward and will be looking into the option of spot spraying.
County of Lanark
Please follow this link: http://www.lanarkcounty.ca/Page1875.aspx for information on actions already taken and ongoing actions and plans to control wild parsnip.
Lanark County’s Weed Inspector’s authority is provided thought the Weed Control Act and is limited to properties where the Noxious Weed has an impact on lands used for agriculture or horticultural purposes.
County of Lanark Contact Information: Ken Gilpin, Area Weed Inspector
Toll Free: 1-888-952-6275
On Private Property
Strategies to remove Wild Parsnip include the digging out the plant roots, targeted mowing, the use of herbicides and ongoing monitoring.
Hand Pulling: The best control is achieved through hand-pulling. Although this method will kill the plant, it is not practical for large infestations. Flowering plants have stout stems and may be pulled easiest after a good rain or during a drought.
Digging: To dig out wild parsnip, use a sharp shovel or spade to loosen and uproot the plant. Follow-up digging will be required every few weeks to deal with re-growth (if the taproot was not completely removed) or missed plants.
Plants and roots that have been removed should be placed in a dark plastic bag and placed in the sun if possible away from areas children or pets could access them.
Mowing: Mowing can be effective control method against wild parsnip if begun just after peak blooming, but before the seeds set in the late summer or early fall. Cut plants will likely re-sprout after mowing, so it is important to combine mowing with other control methods such as bagging and removing the plants, especially those that are flowering and spot spraying with an approved herbicide. Be especially careful when using mowers, weed whips, mechanical string trimmers as they can spray users with sap and bits of the plants, leading to redness and sometimes hundreds of blisters on exposed skin.
Note: Wear protective clothing when removing wild parsnip.
Herbicides: When a weed such as Wild Parsnip is declared a noxious weed, for more information please go to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) website: http://www.ontario.ca/ministry-environment-and-climate-change.
Residents may contact local contractors:
Mark Foster 613-913-7196
The Grounds Guys of Lanark 613-259-2352
Whyte’s Maintenance 613-264-8143
Monitoring: Long-term monitoring is important in keeping this weed under control, as seeds will continue to germinate for several years.