Beware of wild parsnip (7/23/09)

July 23, 2009

With the emergence of wild parsnip in Vermont, poison ivy no longer stands alone as the number one plant to avoid this summer.

Wild parsnip is a tall, yellow, flowering plant that causes severe blisters and rashes and is found along roadsides and in abandoned fields. Master Gardeners from the University of Vermont Extension have identified the plant in Vermont, including in Williston.

The effects of wild parsnip set in when juice from the plant makes contact with skin and the infected area of skin is then exposed to sun. In mild cases, affected skin reddens and feels sunburned. In more severe cases, the skin turns red and then blisters rise, leaving the area feeling as if it’s been scalded. Wild parsnip can leave a dark red or brownish discoloration of the skin that can last up to two years in the area where the burn occurred.

In Williston, Master Gardener June Jones said there is wild parsnip growing along U.S. 2 and at the intersection of Oak Hill Road and U.S. 2.

— Ben Portnoy, Observer correspondent