Wild Parsnip

On our recent visit to Devon we saw lots of these yellow flowers that look otherwise like the white cow parsley, wild carrot etc. A bit of web research suggests that this is wild parsnip.

wild parsnip 2

Although the root of wild parsnip is edible, the shoots and leaves should be handled with caution as their sap contains photo-sensitive chemicals which can cause a reddening, blisters and burning of the skin. It is regarded as an invasive species in parts of North America.

It occurs to me that I have a similar looking umbellifer in the back garden, a fennel plant, but fennel does not have such poisonous attributes and flowers much later in the year.