Berula erecta (Cut-leaf Water Parsnip)

Plant Info
Also known as: Stream Parsnip
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Threatened
Habitat:part shade, sun; swamps, seeps, shallow water, cool streams
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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] Flat to rounded clusters (umbels) 1½ to 2½ inches across with an average of 10 groups (umbellets) each with 10 to 20 tiny white flowers. Individual flowers are about 1/8 inch across, have 5 petals, notched at the tip, 5 slender white stamens and a creamy white center.

[photo of bracts] At the base of the umbel are 3 to 6 narrow bracts ¼ to ¾ inch long. A plant has a few to several umbels

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound with 4 to 11 pairs of leaflets, up to 12 inches long at the base, arranged alternately on the stem, leaflets ½ to 1½ inches long. Early leaves have oval leaflets with rounded teeth, becoming more broadly lance-like and coarsely toothed on the lower stem, leaflets often with a single lobe near the base. Upper leaflets are smaller, sharply toothed or narrowly lobed. Submerged leaves are 3 or 4 times compound with linear segments. Stems are stout, root at basal nodes, sparsely to much branched and can be erect or spreading.


In Minnesota, Cut-leaf Water Parsnip is associated with seeps and fens, often at the base of higher bluffs along waterways. These habitats are fragile and rapidly succumb to invasive wetland species like Reed Canarygrass, forget-me-nots and Watercress, making this uncommon species increasingly scarce. As a result, it was given a status of Special Concern in the DNR's major rare species lists revised in 2013. While the lower leaves of Cut-leaf Water Parsnip may somewhat resemble Wild Parsnip, the upper leaves and flower color make them easy to distinguish.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Seminary Fen SNA, Carver County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along the Mississippi River in Dakota County, and at Seminary Fen SNA.


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

Posted by: Aaron Pietsch - Savage, Scott County
on: 2018-07-04 19:46:08

I found this growing along Eagle Creek and initially IDed it as Water Parsnip, but looking at my photos it's pretty obvious from the leaves that it is Cutleaf Water Parsnip. Eagle Creek is also suffering from Reed Canary infestation.

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