Wildflowers brighten up any room and this is the time we start to see lots of blooming flowers.  There is one plant though that is producing yellow flowers that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is warning people of because although it is beautiful, it could send you to the hospital!  If you see this in your area, there are safe ways to help remove this toxic weed safely and I've got those listed below.

Wild parsnip has been in the Southeast Minnesota and Northern Iowa area for a few summers now.  I've got thousands of these plants on my acreage and it is one plant that spreads so easily but can be very dangerous if you are trying to pick or remove them.  It isn't coming with a warning label though so this is one message you want to make sure all of your friends and family know.  (Don't forget to share it with them!)

Where is this plant?  Mostly in ditches but unfortunately, it can be found almost

Kathryn Kirsch ThinkStock

anywhere.  I was just on a bike path in Rochester the other day and it was right next to the sidewalk.  Any child in a stroller, a person walking, or even my foot on my bike pedal could have come in contact with that plant and had a reaction.

What happens if I touch wild parsnip?  According to Mayo Clinic.com, "touching sap from the wild parsnip plant — combined with exposure to sunlight — can cause a burn-like skin reaction. Within a day after exposure, the skin turns red and might develop painful blisters. While mild reactions might go unnoticed, a severe reaction can cause skin discoloration for months or years."

How do I help alleviate the symptoms if I do come in contact with wild parsnip?  Wash the affected area with cool water.  Multiple sources stated that the burning from the reaction may last a few days and to use a wet cloth, unscented moisturizer, calamine lotion, and to avoid sunlight.  If the reaction is extremely painful, the blisters are severe or the pain lasts more than a couple of weeks, a visit to the Doctor may also be necessary.

How do I safely remove wild parsnip?  Wear gloves, long pants, and long sleeves if you will be working around wild parsnip!  The DNR shared the following ways that wild parsnip can be removed:

  • Hand pulling and removing of plants
  • Cut the plant below the root crown before seeds set, and remove the cut plant
  • Mow or cut the base of the flowering stem and remove

The Minnesota Department of Transporation also has a detailed document that goes into more detail when the plant should be mowed vs. when mowing will actually cause the plant to spread more.  You can view that helpful document at this link: Wild parsnip fact sheet

Stay safe this summer and help share this so your friends and family have this info!