Wild parsnip doesn’t sound as dangerous as “Poison Ivy” but it can wreak just as much havoc on your skin. If its oil comes in contact with your skin, you’re still safe. It’s when that oil gets exposed to sunlight --- that’s when painful blisters will develop. It doesn't matter if the plant is flowering or not - avoid it at all times.

Is it new to Iowa? 

Maybe you're just hearing about it the last few years, but it was documented within the state as early as 1913. However, it wasn't until the 1990s when it was first discovered in Minnesota.

 

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What does it look like?

It can grow to be quite tall, up to 5' tall. Its leaves resemble large celery leaves. It has yellow-green flower petals. It’s not native to North America but from Asia and Europe.

You can often find it growing in ditches. If it’s on your property and you want to get rid of it --- don’t use a Weed Eater to remove it, as you’ll get blasted with its oily sap, which contains the chemical, furanocoumarins, which can make your skin more vulnerable to the sun.

Be cautious – it can be easily confused with a dill plant.

If you come in contact with it, what should you do?

Like poison ivy, wash off with soap and water as soon as possible after exposure. Keep the affected area covered for at least 48 hours to prevent a reaction. Prevention is also key here - wear long sleeves and pants and avoid contact with the plant.

Wild parsnip burns often show up in spots or streaks. Skin discoloration where the burn or blisters first appeared and can last for several months, possibly up to two years.

 

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