Attacking Wild Parsnip!

The County of Lennox and Addington has made the decision to spray 359 km of rural roadsides with the herbicide ClearView® in June of 2017. Be aware that this is happening. The decision has been made.

Public complaints about the rampant spread of this plant have pressured the county to react to this situation. Wild parsnip is a nuisance and the rash it causes, known as phytophotodermatitis, is nasty. But will spraying of rural roadsides effectively control its spread or are there better methods of control?

We, members of the Lennox and Addington Stewardship Council (LASC) are opposed to the spraying of this herbicide. Education is an important part of our mandate. We would like to provide residents with as much information as possible.


Wild Parsnip - L&A Stewardship Council

Pastinaca sativa ‘wild parsnip’

Wild parsnip is a tall, biennial, short-lived plant that blooms in the second year of its two-year life cycle, producing seed. It will cause a rash if the stem is broken and the sap from the stem must touch the skin in the sunlight. Wild parsnip reproduces through seed. Cutting the plant before it flowers is the best method of control. Mowing along roadsides is challenging due to the steep slope of ditches, but is the spraying of an herbicide the best solution? LASC feels strongly it is not.

Dr. James Coupland, an agricultural research scientist, feels that the wild parsnip invasion may be short-lived. Invasive plants tend to follow a series of phases. Currently, in L&A we may be experiencing what he refers to as “the rapid growth phase” and the population is exploding. This peak may soon be followed by a biotic crash when it will become vulnerable to natural controls such as disease. Many invasive species have followed this pattern, including purple loosestrife.



Pastinaca sativa ‘wild parsnip’

Members of LASC met with Chris Wagar, Manager of Roads and Bridges for the County on May 2nd. Chris spent considerable time discussing the spraying program. While we disagree with the decision, we acknowledge his willingness to discuss it openly. Consider the herbicide ClearView®:

Aminopyralid, one of the main ingredients in ClearView, is highly water-soluble and should never be used near water. If spraying is done when water is present in ditches, there is strong risk of contamination of surface water and groundwater.

Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)

“If you use ClearView widely you’re playing with fire…it takes a long time to break down. It can travel through a water system for months killing all native plants. It is the gift that keeps on killing.” Dr. James Coupland

The LASC encourages you to be informed. See the county website:

A map of the roadsides to be sprayed can be viewed here.