By now you’ve seen fields of delightful yellow wild flowers, swaying gently in the breeze along roadsides and other unmaintained areas. While beautiful, these innocent looking flowers pack a dangerous punch if you or your kids come into direct contact with them. Wild parsnip, or “poison parsnip,” has yellow flowers that appear similar to Queen Anne’s Lace and produces a sap that reacts to sunlight. Skin that comes in direct contact with the sap becomes hyper-sensitive to ultraviolet light. Vermont officials say it could take several hours after skin has come in contact with the sap for burns to develop, and some of the skin damage can be serious. The good news is that you’re not likely to get burns through casual contact or brushing up against the plant. Being mindful and well prepared is key to enjoying the outdoors!
If you get sap on your skin:
- Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Protect the exposed skin from sunlight for at least 48 hours.
- If you experience a skin reaction, call your physician.
If you need to work with the plant, or plan to be in areas where the plants may be:
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wash clothes that come in contact with the sap.
- Work with the plant on cloudy days, and always wash your skin immediately after coming in contact with the sap.
- If you are using string trimmers or power mowers in areas where this plant grows, wear eye/face protection, in addition to long pants, long sleeves, and gloves.
To learn more about wild parsnip – visit http://www.healthvermont.gov/enviro/outdoor/wildparsnip.aspx.