Weed: Whild Parsnips

Asked July 26, 2013, 5:52 PM EDT

What can you tell me about a weed that is nicknamed "Wild Parsnips' and can cause severe skin rash? I have been told it is making a comeback in the weed world.

Deuel County South Dakota

1 Response

I found the following about the wild parsnip plus a link that will be helpful. Wild parsnip plant parts contain a substance called psoralen, which can cause a condition known as “phytophotodermatitis.” This reaction occurs when plant juice gets on the skin and then the skin is exposed to sunlight. The results are skin reddening, rash development and in severe cases, blisters, skin discoloration and burning or scalding type pain. Wild parsnip burns often occur in elongated spots or streaks. Dark red or brownish skin discoloration develops where the burn or blisters first appeared and can last for several months, possibly up to two years. Extra care should be taken to wear protective clothing before working with or exposure to wild parsnip. Wild parsnip is found in open places such as roadsides, pastures and disturbed areas throughout most of the United States and Canada. It tolerates a wide range of soil and environmental conditions, but prefers calcareous soils and sunny conditions. Wild parsnip produces a large amount of seed, which contributes to its persistence and reproduction. It is considered invasive in some areas and is on the noxious weed lists of several states.