Beware the Poison Parsnip!

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Lewis Carroll, in his poem The Jabberwocky, warned,

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!                                                                                                                     The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!                                                                                                             Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun                                                                                                                           The frumious Bandersnatch!”

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 Little did he know about the poison parsnip, but the same warnings should apply. Beware and shun!

Poison or wild parsnip is common along roadsides and in fields

Poison parsnip is blooming now, generally on stems 3 to 5 feet tall, but shorter if it has been mowed once. The flowers are yellow and look a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace, a close relative.

 What’s the problem with this plant? If you break a stem and get sap on your body, and then get exposed to direct sun, you can react – getting a severe burn, as bad as a second degree burn. Not everyone reacts, but you should assume you will.


Poison parsnip has a tap root

Wild parsnip is a biennial. The first year it stays low and establishes a deep tap root. The second year the tall stalk grows, it blooms, makes seed and then dies. Seed can stay viable in the soil for up to 5 years.

 Even though those big yellow flowers are pretty, remember the Jabberwock. Beware and shun!

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