Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Wild Parsnip - Pastinaca sativa   L.
Members of Apiaceae:
Only member of Pastinaca in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Apiales » Family Apiaceae
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DistributionMostly in the Mountains, scattered in the Piedmont, disjunct to Beaufort County in the outer Coastal Plain. First collected in 1933 on a roadside near Lake Junaluska, Haywood County.

Native of Europe; in N.A. throughout except MS, AL, GA, FL.
AbundanceFairly common in the Mountains (more numerous in the northern counties), very rare to rare elsewhere.
HabitatRoadsides, fields, meadows, lawn weed, waste ground, edge of parking lot.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-August.
IdentificationWild Parsnip can potentially grow to 6 feet tall, but usually half that. The lower leaves are divided into roughly 9 ovate or narrowly ovate, toothed segments. Middle and upper leaves are smaller and fewer-lobed. The umbels are terminal and axillary, the flowers yellow, the fruits flattened and winged. It should present no identification problems owing to a combination of somewhat robust size, pinnately arranged leaflets, and yellow umbels.
Taxonomic Comments
Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieRoadside edge of prairie, central MO, July 2020. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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