Thaspium barbinode (Hairy-jointed Meadow Parsnip)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; average to dry; wooded bluffs, wooded slopes, forest edges
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:20 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in flat-topped clusters (umbels) 2 to 3 inches across, in 8 to 20 groups (umbellets) of up to 20 flowers each. Individual flowers are all stalked, about 1/8 inch across with 5 yellow petals that fold inward and 5 yellow stamens.

[photo of an umble base] Umbels are at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. The base of the umbel and umbellets are typically fringed in minute hairs and may also have a few lance-linear, leaf-like bracts.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound

[photo of lower leaves] Leaves are 2 or 3 times compound, usually with 3 leaflets, occasionally 5, the basal and lower stem leaves long stalked, up to 12 inches long, becoming smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Leaflets are 1 to 2 inches long and ½ to 1 inch wide, with coarsely toothed edges, mostly wedge-shaped at the base, rounded to pointed at the tip, and often deeply cleft into 2 or 3 lobes. Surfaces are minutely hairy, especially along the veins and around the edges.

[photo of sheath and hairs] The base of the compound leaf sheaths the stem, usually with minute hairs at the leaf nodes and on the inner surface of the sheath, at least on upper nodes. Stems are otherwise hairless. Stems are erect, unbranched or branched in the upper plant, green to purple-tinged, lined on the lower stem and more prominently ribbed above.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is 2-sectioned, oval-elliptic, slightly flattened, ridged with broad wings along most ridges. Seeds are oblong, up to about ¼ inch long, ripen to dark brown.


Hairy-jointed Meadow Parsnip is an uncommon species in Minnesota, first collected in 1886 in Winona county and only found in a handful of other locations since, mostly in the Minnesota River Valley where it reaches the northwest edge of its range. According to the DNR, it appears to have a preference for forest remnants near major rivers. These habitats are at risk especially from invasive species, buckthorn in particular. It was listed as a Special Concern species in 2013.

There are several related species with similar yellow flower clusters, the most similar being Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), which has ribbed but not winged fruit, more finely serrated leaves, and the central flower in an umbellet is usually stalkless, a trait it shares with Heart-leaved Alexanders (Zizia aptera). These stalks can be seen when either flowers or fruits are present. Also similar is Yellow Pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima), which has rather airier clusters and toothless leaflets. Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), a highly invasive species found across Minnesota, is a much larger plant (often 4-5+ feet tall) with a larger flower cluster (to 8 inches across), duller, somewhat greenish-yellow flowers, once-compound leaves with up to 15 leaflets. Of note is Thaspium barbinode is described in most references as having pale yellow to creamy white flowers, where the Minnesota populations we encountered all had bright yellow flowers like Golden Alexanders.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Jackson County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Blue Earth and Jackson counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mikayla - Medford
on: 2019-05-20 15:23:05

I think I may have seen this in the ditches by our home in Medford!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-05-20 16:36:10

Mikayla, at this time of year blooming in a road ditch you're much more likely to see one of the alexanders. Thaspium barbinode is more of a woodland species.

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