(Pastinaca sativa subsp. sativa)
Synonyms of Pastinaca sativa (3) (Updated on 4-5-22 from Plants of the World Online): Anethum pastinaca Wibel, Peucedanum sativum (L.) Benth., Selinum pastinaca Crantz
Synonyms of Pastinaca subsp. sativa (22) (Updated on 4-5-22 from Plants of the World Online): Pastinaca angulosa Dulac, Pastinaca arvensis Steud., Pastinaca capensis Sond., Pastinaca esculenta Salisb., Pastinaca fleischmannii Hladnik, Pastinaca heracleoides (Boros) Kotov, Pastinaca insularis Calest., Pastinaca insularis Rouy & E.G.Camus, Pastinaca latifolia Ledeb., Pastinaca lutea Gilib., Pastinaca opaca Bernh. ex Hornem., Pastinaca pratensis H.Mart., Pastinaca propinqua Jord. ex Boreau, Pastinaca sylvestris Garsault, Pastinaca sylvestris Mill., Pastinaca taraxacifolia Fisch. ex Schult., Pastinaca tereticaulis Boreau ex Celak., Pastinaca vulgaris Bubani, Peucedanum fleischmannii (Hladnik) Arcang., Peucedanum opacum Franch., Peucedanum pastinaca Baill., , Selinum opacum (Bernh. ex Hornem.) E.H.L.Krause
Pastinaca sativa L. is the accepted scientific name for the Wild Parsnip. Both the genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Accepted Infraspecific Names (2) (Updated on 4-5-22 from POWO): *Pastinaca sativa subsp. sativa (autonym), Pastinaca sativa subsp. urens (Req. ex Godr.) Celak. *When infraspecific taxon are named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms…
As of 4-5-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 15 species in the Pastinaca genus. It is a member of the plant family Apiaceae with 441 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Pastinaca sativa is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for North America (above Mexico) is the same.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members provide new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I took the photos of the Pastinaca sativa (Wild Parsnip) along the road in front of the pasture on my farm on May 20 in 2017. There are always several of these plants so I really need to take more photos. Wild Parsnips are a common sight along highways, back roads, and pastures throughout Missouri and the rest of the country for that matter.
Pastinaca sativa is an interesting member of the plant family Apiaceae. It is a non-native biennial species that has spread throughout most of North America. It is easily recognized by its umbels of yellow flowers, leaves, and size.
Wild Parsnip are the same species grown in the garden for their edible roots. I have never grown them in the garden, but at one time I considered it. Plants in the garden are grown for their roots and are usually harvested after a frost (s) when they become sweeter. In 1859 a new cultivar called ’Student’ was developed by James Buckman for garden use. Today, there are several cultivars available for home gardens. Likely, if you don’t harvest the roots, the second year they will turn into a monster like the wild parsnip.
Although it may be an attractive plant when in flower, both the wild and cultivated plants are highly toxic and should be handled with care. Plants produce sap that contains furanocoumarins which are phototoxic chemicals. Leaves and shoots should be handled with care and can cause photodermatitis resulting in blistering of the skin. The furanocoumarin content is highest in the buds and seeds. Some information online says “it is unclear whether the roots of the wild form are suitable for human consumption.” However, parsnips have been grown as food since ancient times and were even used as a source of sugar. The Wikipedia article is a good source of information, and if I keep writing I will be repeating it.
At any rate, Pastinaca sativa, in the wild, is a highly toxic plant that should be handled with care. They can become invasive if not kept in check, and are listed as an invasive species in several states. They grow up to 5’ tall in full to part sun, dry to damp conditions, and are adaptable to soil type (although they prefer rich loamy soil). They can be found along roadsides, railroads, pastures and fields, vacant lots, old homesites… You get the picture.
The stems of Pastinaca sativa are normally erect but can be ascending, are fairly stout, and are usually ridged. The stems can be smooth (glabrous) to pubescent with short hairs.
The leaves grow in an alternate manner along the stems and normally there are a few basal leaves during flowering. Basal (lower) leaves can grow up 18-20“ long and 6” across, are smooth on the upper surface and have short hairs on the underside. The basal leaves are oblong-elliptic in outline, 1-2 times compound with about 9 leaflets. The upper leaves are much smaller, lanceolate, ovate to nearly round in shape. Lower leaves have long petioles (leaf stalks) while upper leaves have short petioles. Lower leaves have fairly long sheaths that are slightly inflated at the base.
The stems terminate in flat-topped, compound umbels with 15-23 umbellets which have 8-25 very small yellow flowers. The flowers haven sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens. There is one pistil per flower with 2 fused carpels. Ovaries are glabrous with a swollen nectar disc at the tip. Flowers have 2 styles that are often expanded at the base. Flowering occurs from May through October.
Flowers are replaced by fruit which are called schizocarps. They are flat, kind of oval in shape, broadly winged, and apparently contain only one seed.
Pastinica sativa is not only toxic to humans, it can also effect livestock and poultry.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
KANSAS NATIVE PLANTS
INVASIVE PLANT ATLAS OF THE U.S.
CABI-INVASIVE SPECIES COMPENDIUM
MIDWEST INVASIVE SPECIES INFORMATION NETWORK
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON-BURKE HERBARIUM
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂