Vermonters warned to watch for wild parsnips

Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 4:24 PM EDT
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'Tis the season of an invasive species! And there's a warning about one that can hurt you in Vermont.

Wild parsnips are often mistaken for a harmless look-alike, Queen Anne's lace. Wild parsnip is mostly found on roadsides and in fields. You can tell them apart by their yellow buds with leaves that are diamond-shaped, shiny and have jagged edges. The sap causes a bad allergic reaction when it comes in contact with skin and is exposed to sunlight.

"The sap of the wild parsnip has a chemical in it that is phytophototoxic, so that means it's a chemical from a plant and the chemical becomes toxic in the presence of sunlight. If you get that chemical from the sap on your skin, the chemical could cause burns if you are exposed to sunlight," Vt. Toxicologist Sarah Vose said.

Anyone who comes in contact with wild parsnip sap should try to wash it away with soap and water, and stay away from sunlight as much as possible. If burns are discovered, be sure to contact your health care provider.

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