Wild Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa L.) are very common in many parts of Vermont. The plants grow wild along roadsides and other unmaintained areas, and produce yellow flowers that appear similar to Queen Anne’s Lace.
Avoid skin contact with Wild Parsnip
Although this is the same plant as the common garden parsnip we eat in soups and stews, the flower heads are the second year growth from the carrot-like roots. It is a close relative of carrots, parsley, angelica, and giant hogweed, all of which can cause similar skin reactions in sensitive individuals.
Wild parsnips produce a sap, or plant juice, that can cause burns to the skin in the presence of sunlight. In some cases, the burns are similar to second-degree sunburns, and can cause painful rashes and raised blisters.
The Department of Health advises people to avoid the sap or juice produced by the wild parsnip. Avoid skin and eye contact with this sap. If you need to work with the plant:
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wash clothes that come in contact with the sap.
- Work with the plant on cloudy days, and always wash your skin immediately after coming in contact with the sap.
- If you are using string trimmers or power mowers in areas where this plant grows, wear eye/face protection, in addition to long pants, long sleeves, and gloves.
If you get sap on your skin:
- Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Protect the exposed skin from sunlight for at least 48 hours.
- If you experience a skin reaction, call your physician.
First Year Plant (basal rosette)
County Distribution of Wild Parsnip in Vermont
USDA Plants Profile Database
Wild Parsnip Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Vermont General Information