Know the stages of wild parsnip growth

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To be able to identify wild parsnip, you must know each stage of the plant's lifecycle. Wild parsnip can live anywhere from two years up to five years, though it is considered a biennial plant, because most plants complete the lifecycle within two years.

Used with permission - Source: weedinfo.ca

Used with permission - Source: weedinfo.ca

(a) seedlings with small ovate leaves on long talks, later rosette leaves pinnately compound with broad leaflets; plants remaining as a rosette during the first season. Stem leaves alternate (1 per node), pinnately compound with usually 2 to 5 pairs of opposite (2 at a place), sharply toothed, relatively broad leaflets (b) that may be somewhat mitten-shaped, and 1 somewhat diamond-shaped leaflet (c) at the tip; all leafstalks broad (d) and completely encircle the stem; uppermost leaves reduced to narrow bracts (e) with flowering branches from their axils.

Wild parsnip is a biennial that is characterized by the formation of a rosette of leaves during the first year of growth and a large edible taproot. In the second year of its lifecycle, it produces stems that can grow as tall as 1-1.5m and develops in umbrella-shaped clusters of small yellow flowers (umbel). Wild parsnip reproduces by seeds only - which can remain viable in soil for up to 4 years.


Taproot - the taproot of a wild parsnip plant can grow as deep as 1.5m, which helps the plant to survive for long periods during unfavorable growing conditions. 

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Juvenile plant - this is the stage that occurs during the first year of the wild parsnip lifecycle.

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Mature stem - later in the second year, the stem reaches its maturity.

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Immature seedhead

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Wild parsnip infestation

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Seedling  

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Mature plant leaves - the second year of the plant's lifecycle has the mature leaf structure.

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Immature stem - early in the second year of the plant's lifecycle, this is what the stem will look like.

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Umbels - the flower heads of the wild parsnip plant are umbels. The largest - the primary umbel - is the first to bear fruit and disperse seeds.

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Mature seedhead

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USED WITH PERMISSION - SOURCE: WEEDINFO.CA