My humble abode

I, Pastinaca sativa, or wild parsnip as many fondly call me, am originally from Eurasia, between the Western Mediterranean and the Caucasus Mountains, in particular.  I spread to Northern Europe and became extremely common in England and Germany.  I also have been known to frequent Peru and Venezuela.

Colonists loved me so much that they decided it would be a good idea to bring me to North America and began growing me in Massachusetts and Virginia.  It turns out that the conditions in North America are perfect for me because I’ve been very successful here.  Even though colonists initially planted my cultivated form and used me as a food source, I quickly reverted to my “wild” form.  I can now be found in 45 states, (with the exception of: HI, MS, AL, FL, and GA), most parts of Canada, Mexico, most of South America, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

I prefer to live in areas that have rich, moist, alkaline soils, but because of my large taproot, I am able to withstand poor soil conditions and drought as well.  In the United States, I can usually be found colonizing oil fields, railroad embankments, roadsides, abandoned fields, pastures, and waste areas.  I usually am found in open areas because I am partial to full sunlight or mostly sunlight.  Sunlight is beneficial to me because exposure to UV light increases my toxicity.


I have become a problem in many areas and am considered invasive in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  Even though I may be considered invasive, I consider myself to be very successful.  When I first move into an area, I am able to quickly take over and displace native species.

Because I have such a wide range of habitat and distribution, there are an enormous number of other organisms that I share my habitat with.  Particularly in Wisconsin I share my habitat with plants such as stinging nettles, St. John’s Wort, and the lowbush blueberry.  Some animals that I share my habitat with include:  the red-tailed hawk, the zebra spider, and the eastern gray squirrel.

Check out my adaptations!  

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