Wild Parsnip (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a cultivated and a naturalized herb in much of Canada. The plant juices can cause photodermatitis in some individuals after exposure to sunlight. Exposure to leaves, stems, and peeling roots can cause the problem. The edible roots contain enough furocoumarins to be physiologically active in some cases. These toxins are mutagenic (even in the dark) inducing melanization in human skin. Photodermatitis from this plant is often confused with poison-ivy dermatitis (Mitchell and Rook 1979, Ivie et al. 1981).

References:

  • Ivie, G. W., Holt, D. L., Ivey, M. C. 1981. Natural toxicants in human foods: psoralens in raw and cooked parsnip root. Science (Wash D. C.), 213: 909-910.
  • Mitchell, J. C., Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology. Greenglass Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 787 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Pastinaca sativa L.
Vernacular name(s):
wild parsnip
Scientific family name:
Umbelliferae
Vernacular family name:
parsley

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Pastinaca sativa

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Labrador
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon Territory

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

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Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

Exposure to the plant juices in the leaves, stems, or roots can result in dermatitis caused by phototoxic furocoumarins. Wetness of the skin accentuates the results. Ingesting large quantities of parsnip root may expose people to sufficient quantities of psoralens to have physiological affects. Parsnips produce much higher concentrations of these toxins in response to disease infection (Mitchell and Rook 1979, Ivie et al. 1981).

Toxic parts:

  • plant juices
  • roots

References:

  • Ivie, G. W., Holt, D. L., Ivey, M. C. 1981. Natural toxicants in human foods: psoralens in raw and cooked parsnip root. Science (Wash D. C.), 213: 909-910.
  • Mitchell, J. C., Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology. Greenglass Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 787 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Three furocoumarins (psoralen, xanthotoxin, bergapten) are found in parsnip roots. These chemicals are phototoxic, mutagenic, and photo- carcinogenic. The cumulative concentration is about 40 ppm. Consumption of 0.1 kg of parsnip could expose a person to 4-5 mg of psoralens, a level that may cause some physiological effects. These chemicals are potent photosensitizers and are highly mutagenic in long-wavelength ultraviolet light (Ivie et al. 1981).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • furocoumarin

References:

  • Ivie, G. W., Holt, D. L., Ivey, M. C. 1981. Natural toxicants in human foods: psoralens in raw and cooked parsnip root. Science (Wash D. C.), 213: 909-910.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Ivie, G. W., Holt, D. L., Ivey, M. C. 1981. Natural toxicants in human foods: psoralens in raw and cooked parsnip root. Science (Wash D. C.), 213: 909-910.

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