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Wild Parsnip vs Golden Alexanders

These plants are frequently confused as both have similar-arranged clusters of yellow flowers and similar growth habits. They are easy to tell apart by a look at the leaf structure, and in winter, by their seeds.

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)

An introduced perennial, from which cultivated parsnips are derived. Established across North America and invasive in the northeast and Midwest.
A carrot-family perennial of moist to mesic, sunny areas, with yellow blossoms, native to eastern North America.
Leaves are pinnately compound, not usually doubly-compound.
Photo © Andrea Wallace, CC BY 4.0.
Leaves doubly-compound, usually with two sets of three leaflets close to the base of each leaf.
Photo © tkr421, CC BY 4.0.

References & External Resources

These short lists show only links helpful for ID. For a complete list of references and resources also covering other aspects of ecology, visit the links section of the full article on each plant, whcih is the first entry here.

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)

Pastinaca sativa | Go Botany (About This Site)

Zizia aurea | Go Botany (About This Site)

Pastinaca sativa (Wild Parsnip) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Zizia aurea (Golden Alexanders) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Pastinaca sativa | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Zizia aurea | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)