At the moment, many of our rural roads are lined with wild parsnip, which like many plants this season are thriving. While beautiful, these plants can leave permanent scars on exposed skin. An invasive species, it appears on the provincial list of toxic weeds.
Like giant hogweed and other members of the carrot family, it produces sap containing chemicals that can cause human skin to react to sunlight, resulting in intense burns, rashes or blisters. Brushing against these plants can result in a brown discolouration on the skin with little or no accompanying discomfort, or weeping blisters caused by a chemical compound called “furanocoumarin”. The toxicity of this compound is enhanced by ultraviolet radiation, and its impact is magnified by humidity and perspiration.
Avoid contact with these plants and if you find them on your property, don’t try to remove them without expert advice. Wash any exposed skin and limit sun exposure for the following 48 hrs. For more information about this and other toxic plants, visit www.omafra.gov.on.ca