Watch Out For This Poisonous Plant Spreading Across the U.S.

Watch Out For This Poisonous Plant Spreading Across the U.S.

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The Wild Parsnip flower may look harmless, but one touch of this plant can ruin your day.

 
Plant Credit: Digging in the Driftless
Sunburns aren't the only skin annoyance you need to watch out for this summer, as a poisonous plant is creeping across the country in unusual numbers this year. Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) may sound like something you'd find in an artisanal salad but make no mistake; this is a vegetable to avoid. Blisters, unbearable itching, cracked skin, and scars that can last up to two years, are often the result of coming into contact with this weed's dangerous sap.
Plant Credit: Andrew Link, Lacross Tribune 2013
Researchers believe a wet spring is to blame for the wild parsnip's unusual numbers this year. The plant grows in patches, so you're likely to identify this weed by its clustering of yellow flowers. While the root of the wild parsnip is edible, trying to unearth the plant should be avoided as improper cutting can release the oils as a spray.  
Plant Credit: CBS News 1
Wild Parsnip is likely to lurk alongside ditches and bushes, so hikers and bikers should keep to the trails if they want to avoid contact. Hobby gardeners should also take caution. If you come into contact with the oils of the plant, the first action you should take is to get indoors immediately. The oils react to sunlight, and this is what can start breaking down your skin cells right away. It is important to know that this is more like a chemical burn than an allergic reaction, and it should be treated as such. Wash immediately with cold water and scrub under the fingernails. Calamine lotion is also helpful to have on hand.
Plant Credit: Credit: DR's Country Life Blog
Though the parsnip invasion sounds scary, nobody should have to avoid the joy of the outdoors; simply follow similar guidelines as dealing with poison ivy and oak. With some due precaution and a watchful eye, you can prevent this toxic weed from ruining that summer tan. Thank you to ABC7 Chicago and New York Invasive Species Information 

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