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Contact with Wild Parsnip Can Result in a Serious Rash

Posted on July 30, 2021

Because skin contact with the sap from Wild Parsnip can result in a severe and painful rash, it is important to know what this plant looks like and how to identify it.

Wild parsnip, an aggressive member of the carrot family, is most often found in open, sunny areas, this plant begins its first year as a basal rosette or cluster of low growing leaves about 6 inches long. After a year or more, wild parsnip grows a single thick, hairy stem reaching 4-5 feet at maturity with many large flat clusters of yellow-green, 5- petaled flowers that bloom in early June to late July. Seeds and flowers may occur at the same time on wild parsnip. After flowering, the plant turns brown and dies.

Skin contact with the sap from this plant can be dangerous if exposed to sunlight. This combination may result in a severe and painful skin rash similar to a blistery sunburn. Wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves whenever there is potential for contact with plant sap or juices. It is also advised that you work at dusk to prevent exposure to sunlight if you come in contact with plant sap. If you do come into contact with sap, wash clothing or the contacted area thoroughly. For more information, see Wild Parsnip.


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