Wild Parsnip Coverage Map, Photos, Information

Attached you will find a map of the city noting wild parsnip infestation, ranging from spotty to heavy in patches throughout the Cumberland Village area. This is a dangerous plant that can cause long term issues. Some information from http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/water-and-environment/plants-and-animals/w... is below. Please visit the city website for more information on the City strategy for dealing with it, reporting it, and for additional health and safety information regarding it.

"Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Wild Parsnip is an invasive plant that is increasingly common within the City of Ottawa in areas of uncultivated land, roadside ditches, nature trails, as well as on and surrounding rural and residential properties.

Wild Parsnip may pose a health risk to humans. The plant sap contains chemicals that may cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to burning and blistering when exposed to the sun. The blisters typically occur one to two days after contact with the plant. This can result in long-term scarring of the skin.

The best way to avoid contact with Wild Parsnip is to become familiar with what the plant looks like so you do not accidently come in contact with the plant. 


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.

Early Growth: 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.

In Bloom: When Wild Parsnip is in bloom usually in the second and third year plants have tall, branched yellow flowering stalks that usually bloom in early June to late July.

Mature Plant: Starting in August ‎the blooming plant will begin to turn brown and the leaves and stems will begin to dry up. This means that the toxic sap from the plant will also begin to dry up, and contact with the plant is less likely to cause a reaction. Once the plant is completely dry the seeds will fall to the ground.

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.

Leaf of wild parsnip

Early Growth

Wild parsnip's yellow flower

In Bloom

Mature Plant

Mature Plant

Education and Public Awareness

The Public Works department has been proactively mapping out wild parsnip infestation levels across the City along roadsides, parkland and pathways. The identification of wild parsnip collected from staff has been used to identify the control areas for the 2016 strategy.

The integrated management strategy includes monitoring, mapping, the use of herbicides, mowing and evaluation. Herbicide application and accelerated mowing are beginning May 15th The herbicides Clearview and Truvist were chosen in consultation from other Municipal and Provincial stakeholders and experts.   Both herbicides are selective and may impact other weeds/plants but should not impact trees or grass.  

Monitoring and mapping are ongoing.

Second year growth wild parsnip begins to dry up in August, so contact with the plant will be less likely to cause a reaction. However, the sap still remains inside the plant. Avoidance or personal protective gear, when handing the plant, is still recommended.

How to avoid the plant

  •  It is recommended that the public stay on the groomed areas of parks, roadsides and pathways where there are less instances of wild parsnip.
  •  When working around Wild Parsnip or when walking through dense vegetation, wear goggles, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Thoroughly wash boots and  gloves with soap and water before taking off your protective clothing.
  •  Children should be reminded not to pick wild flowers. Ensure children are able to identify Wild Parsnip in order to avoid exposure.
  •  If you are exposed to the plant sap, wash the contaminated area(s) thoroughly as soon as possible, and seek medical attention if skin irritation occurs.
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