Wild Parsnip, also known as Poison Parsnip, is a toxic plant that is rapidly spreading throughout the 5 eastern counties. You should avoid the plant when spending time outdoors during the summer months and teach children to do the same.
How do Wild Parsnip plants affect health?
Certain individuals may be affected by Wild Parsnip more than others as they may suffer from a heightened sensitivity to the plant’s sap. When the stem is broken or the plant is brushed against, exposure to the sap can cause severe rashes, blisters or burns resulting in brown scars that can last for several years. If a person’s eyes come into contact with the plant’s sap, it can cause temporary or permanent blindness.
How can I protect myself?
• Recognize the plant. Wild Parsnip plants vary in height from 50 to 150 cm and produce yellow flowers with 5 petals forming a head shaped like an umbrella. Leaves are branched and are characterized by a saw toothed edge.
• Avoid the plant.
• Contact your municipality if you see Wild Parsnip is posing a health risk at a specific location.
Where does Wild Parsnip grow?
Wild Parsnip is amongst the most visible yellow-flowered weeds in disturbed areas, such as roadside ditches, along railroad right of ways, through cracks in parking lot pavement, around sports fields and recreation areas, fields, pastures, fence rows and yards during July, August and September.
What can I do to reduce the amount of Wild Parsnip plants in the region?
Removing Wild Parsnip plants is the best way to limit their spread. No matter what method is used to remove them, you must wear goggles, rubber gloves, rubber boots and coveralls. And don’t forget to thoroughly wash your boots and gloves with soap, water and a scrub brush before taking them off.
• Mowing: Mowing is a practical way of controlling the spread of Wild Parsnip, but it must be done between late June and early July, before the plants flower. Mowing later on could spread the seeds and make a Wild Parsnip infestation worse.
• Hand Pulling: Pulling out a Wild Parsnip plant by hand will kill it. It is easier to remove plants with stout stems after a period of rain or during a drought, when the root shrinks. However, this method is not practical if there is a large infestation in the area.
• Digging: When digging to remove Wild Parsnip, use a narrow shovel, spade or trowel to loosen the soil and uproot the plant. If the top of the plant has started to produce seeds, it should be removed from the area and burned to prevent any further spread.
Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System website: Wild Parsnip