Trachymene incisa

Native parsnip

Family: Araliaceae

Trachymene incisa is a small herbaceous perennial with a small edible tap root with flowering stems to about 80 cm tall.

It has a mainly coastal distribution in NSW, north of Ulladulla, but extends into the tablelands and western plains of NSW, to west of Narrabri. It extends into Queensland, mainly along the coast and coatsl inland to Fraser Island, with some scattered records well west of here.

It grows naturally in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, typically on sandy soils.

Trachymene spp. have simple and alternate leaves; both basal and cauline (on flowering stems) ranging from entire to heaviliy dissected (parsley-appearance). In this species, leaves are strongly divided in 3 to 5 lobes (parsley-like / pinnatisect) to about 7 cm long by 9 cm wide; with lobes linear to 5 mm wide; on petioles to 13 cm long.

Trachymene spp. produce flowers in elevated terminal umbels (or heads). In this species, small white flowers are produced in a solitary umbel, to about 25 mm diameter, on top of a long stalk, about 30–40 cm above the foliage. Heads consist of up to 60 very small 5-merous flowers which have a star-shape; mainly produced in spring-summer.

The fruit is a small woody structure comprised of 2 mericarps. In this species, the fruit is broad ovate to about 4 mm long.

In the garden

An interesting plant that could be grown for its foliage and flowers. It is known to be cultivated and is known to be used as a “bush food”.

It likely needs to be mass planted to make an impact, but can be used as a low border in a cottage-style garden or in pots. The tall flowers are eyecatching and have a tinge of pink amongst the white.

Harvesting the root to eat of one plant will obviously kill the plant and won’t provide much of a meal on its own.

Best grown in an open sunny to part-shade location on sandy soil.

Check with native nurseries for availability. Plants last 1–2 years, with some plants dying off and others re-seeding.


Grow by seed. It seeds prolifically, so dig up and pot on any seedlings that come up around the plant.

Other information

It was formerly in the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots and parsley, but is now in Araliaceae.

It can be observed regenerating from taproots after fire.

Trachymene – is from the Greek trachys (τραχις) meaning rough and mene (μηνη) meaning moon – referring to the rough moon-like appearance of the fruit.

incisa – is Latin for “cut”, referring to the cut-appearance of the divided leaves.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Trachymene incisa profile page      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Trachymene~incisa

Wikipedia – Trachymene incisa profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trachymene_incisa

By Rhonda Daniels. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke