Skip to main content

Ottawa to begin spraying and mowing wild parsnip next week

Wild parsnip burns ‘You don’t want this’

The City of Ottawa will spend $298,000 this year to deal with wild parsnip in parks and along roadsides and pathways across the city.

Starting next week, the city will begin spraying and mowing areas along 1,200 kilometres of roadsides and pathways and at more than 200 park locations to reduce the growth of wild parsnip in highly infested areas.

Wild parsnip is an invasive plant that can cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to burning and blistering.

"We heard from residents and Councillors that additional treatment was required and have significantly increased the number of lane kilometres to be treated this year within existing budgets," Alain Gonthier, general manager of Public Works, said in a memo to council.

"Public Works will continue to assess the required resources and budget for spraying operations in future years. Roadside grass cutting will begin early June, and additional herbicide application may be considered again for the fall season."

The city is expanding treatment for wild parsnip from 650 kilometres in 2023 to 1,200 kilometres of roadsides and pathways this year.

Staff will begin treating roadsides the week of May 27, with wild parsnip spraying in parks to begin on June 3, weather permitting.

The 2024 strategy will see the city continue and expand the application of Clearview and Navius FLEX herbicides in highly infected areas.

Rural property owners can ask the city not to spray the areas adjacent to their property.

Wild parsnip has been identified as a noxious weed in Ontario since 2015.

The City of Ottawa released a map showing where it will spray and mow for wild parsnip in 2024. (City of Ottawa/release)

What is wild parsnip?

Wild parsnip is a highly branched plant, with hollow green stems, according to the city of Ottawa's website.

"It has two growth stages: non-flowering leafy rosettes at ground level and 0.5 to 1.5 metre-tall flowering plants."

Here are the stages of growth:

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.

Avoiding wild parsnip

The city of Ottawa offers the following tips to avoid wild parsnip on pathways and in parks:

  • 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.
  • Children should be reminded not to pick wild flowers
  • 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 Top Stories

Stay Connected