Wild Parsnip on the rise in Eastern Ontario

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is warning residents of the five Eastern counties to avoid Wild Parsnip plants when spending time outdoors this summer. 

Wild Parsnip, also known as Poison Parsnip, is a toxic plant that is rapidly spreading throughout the region.

Certain individuals may be affected by Wild Parsnip more than others as they may suffer from a heightened sensitivity to the plant’s sap. 

When the stem is broken or the plant is brushed against, exposure to the sap can cause severe rashes, blisters or burns resulting in brown scars that can last for several years. 

If a person’s eyes come into contact with the plant’s sap, it can cause temporary or permanent blindness.

The most effective way of protecting yourself and your loved ones is to avoid the plant. 

Wild Parsnip plants vary in height from 50 to 150 cm and produce yellow flowers with five petals forming a head shaped like an umbrella. 

Leaves are branched and are characterized by a saw toothed edge. 

Wild Parsnip is usually found in disturbed areas, such as roadside ditches, along railroad right of ways, through cracks in parking lot pavement, around sports fields and recreation areas, fields, pastures, fence rows and yards during July, August and September.

If you see a Wild Parsnip plant on your property, the best way to avoid an infestation is to remove it. 

When removing Wild Parsnip, you must wear goggles, rubber gloves, rubber boots and coveralls. 

And don’t forget to thoroughly wash your boots and gloves with soap, water and a scrub brush before taking them off. 

It is best to mow the plant before it flowers (late June to early July) to prevent it from spreading. Wild Parsnip can also be pulled out by hand or dug up.

For more information about Wild Parsnip plants and how to remove them, visit www.eohu.ca or call Health Line at 613-933-1375 or at 1 800 267-7120.

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