Wild carrot & parsley dropwort
The carrot family’s weedy relatives
Why is it a weed? Both grow readily in pastures and downgrade hay value Where is it found? Parsley dropwort – mostly Upper North Island Wild carrot – nationwide Is it toxic? Wild carrot – edible and can be used as a herb or diuretic Parsley dropwort – possibly toxic The differences between wild carrot and parsley dropwort
WALK OR DRIVE around the countryside and you’ll often notice white flowers clustered at the top of tall, green stems. Parsley dropwort ( Oenanthe
pimpinelloides) and wild carrot ( Daucus carota, carrot weed) are common and can be hard to tell apart. Adding to the confusion, there are other, similar-looking plants like hemlock and burdock.
The carrots we enjoy eating are a subspecies of wild carrot; if you leave your garden varieties to mature, they’ll flower and set seed in a similar manner.
Both these species invade pasture, replacing grass and clover.
It’s possible wild carrot can taint milk, although cattle don’t tend to graze it.
Parsley dropwort is suspected to be toxic; it belongs to a plant family that includes some highly toxic members.
How to control these plants
If there are not too many, hand-pulling is a good strategy.
You can control wild carrot by topping or mowing it before it flowers (because it is an annual), but parsley dropwort may regrow.
Spraying with a 2,4-D (eg, Baton) provides good control of seedlings, but is not effective as the plant gets bigger.
• annual • flowers August to May • often eaten by livestock, especially sheep, even when flowering
• perennial • re-grows from a fibrous root system with black tubers each year • flowers from October to April • less palatable to livestock when close to flowering
Gary Bosley works as PGG Wrightson's North Island technical specialist in agronomy. He and his family live on a 4ha lifestyle block south-east of Auckland.