Courtesy of Virginia Tech Weed Identification

Courtesy of Virginia Tech Weed Identification

I haven never heard of this before a couple weeks ago, but I did see firsthand the nasty burns that it can leave on your skin. Nothing like poison ivy, this leaves marks that look like you were burned and according to the person I saw that was exposed, it feels like it also. The name, wild parsnip, or poison parsnip. The plant is blooming now with yellow flowers and resembles Queen Anne Lace except the flowers are yellow instead of white. The plants can stand 3-6 feet tall.

According to the UVM Master Gardener website:

Has high concentration of furocoumarin chemicals, which cause phyto-photo-dermatitis. When absorbed by skin, furocoumarins are energized by ultraviolet light (present during sunny and cloudy days) causing them to bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. This process destroys cells and skin tissue, causing severe burns (hence the nickname ‘poison parsnip’).

Virginia Tech Weed Identification - Photo

Virginia Tech Weed Identification - Photo

The plant is highly invasive and some say worse than poison ivy since the irritation to the skin not only itches but burns, similar to second degree burns to the skin. Best to avoid at all costs, it is mostly found on the sides of highways and in fields here in Vermont.

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