Lesser water-parsnip

Lesser water parsnip

Lesser water parsnip © Brian Eversham

Lesser water-parsnip

Scientific name: Berula erecta
Look out for the white, umbrella-like flower heads of lesser water-parsnip along the shallow margins of ditches, ponds, lakes and rivers. When crushed, it does, indeed, smell like parsnip!

Species information


Height: 0.3-1m

Conservation status


When to see

July to September


The lesser water-parsnip is a perennial, aquatic plant that grows in shallow, clear, flowing water at the margins of ditches, ponds, lakes and rivers. It can grow quite tall and displays umbrella-like flower heads from July to September.

How to identify

Lesser water-parsnip has loose umbels of white flower heads and grooved hollow stems. Its bluish-green leaves are pinnate with varying numbers of leaflets (3 to 14 pairs) that have toothed edges. A characteristic feature of this plant is the presence of a pale ring at the base of the leaf stalk.


Mainly found in lowland England, scarce elsewhere.

Did you know?

As its name suggests, lesser water-parsnip smells of parsnip or carrot when it is crushed.