Plant ID: Water Parsnip, Sium suave

(Question)

I am in Toronto and this plant is taking over my raspberry patch. It is about 4 feet tall looks like Queen Anne’s Lace from a distance but it does not have a “carrot looking” leaf. It is in a sunny location, where a cherry tree was removed about 3 yeas ago.
Possible Water Hemlock???

 

 

(Answer)

 

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

The plant you have in your garden appears to be Water Parsnip, Sium suave. Water Parsnip is a water-loving perennial of the carrot family that is native to swamps, wet meadows, wet woodlands, stream/pond margins, roadside ditches and muddy shores throughout North America (Newfoundland to British Columbia south to Florida, Texas and California).

According to Missouri Botanical Garden ‘Water Parsnip is a Native plant for wet areas of the landscape and water gardens. Roots can be eaten as a vegetable (boiled), but this is not recommended because of the similarity of this plant to Cicuta maculata (water hemlock) which is extremely poisonous.

Water parsnip and Water hemlock are very similar. Both belong to the carrot family (Apiaceae). Water parsnip has compound leaves and Water hemlock has double compound leaves. You will see more pictures on these two good resources:

Please feel free to send us another photo that shows more detail if you feel we have not made a positive ID.