Water parsley

Oenanthe sarmentosa – Pacific water parsley

At a Glance:

leaves of water parsley
  • Family: Apiaceae – Carrot
  • Plant Type: deciduous scrambling herb
  • Habitat: wet, inundated soils, muddy sites, standing water; wetland obligate
  • Distribution: Pacific Coast, California to Alaska, middle-low elevations
  • Height: up to 3 feet tall
  • Flower color: Tiny white flowers in a round cluster.
  • Flowering Season: June to August
  • Leaves: Leaves are glossy, dark green on top with a lighter, dull green on the underside. Leaf color turns a red hue around fall time. Leaves are bi-pinnate and lacey looking, similar to a fern. Leaflets have a sharp, toothed margin.
  • Generation: Perennial

Resotration and Conservation

Pacific water parsley helps stabilize soil in watery area and slows down water flow and helps trap settlement. They are commonly used for spawning vegetation by native amphibians like red-legged frogs and Northwestern salamanders. For restoration settings, they propagate well by seed.

Close relatives in the Oenanthe genus were used to flavor wine. “Ionois” means wine and “anthos” means flower, so Oenanthe is combined to mean flower-wine. Sarmentosa means creeping or vine like, describing the long runners it lays out in a scrambling way.

References and Resources

This article was written by Sarah Verlinde. For questions regarding the UWB/CC Plant Tour, contact Sarah at severlin@uw.edu.