Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Wild parsnip abounds in Ontario ditches - it's poisonous

Contact dermatitis
Poison Ivy rash in October, 2011.
Another long story!
There are lots of weeds that are toxic to us, most give us Contact dermatitis.

The Wild parsnip worries me, as it is ubiquitous in Southeastern Ontario ditches.  The government has a website for weeds. I drove home from my daughter's house, and stopped to photograph them.

I'd noticed them after cleaning them out from around my mailbox.
I've had some boils, so I know I've been infected with the poison, either from this, or from our Poison Ivy patch down by the meadow. I made the mistake of going over the ivy with the law tractor.

Contact dermatitis begins with an itch or boils. If not treated, and spreads throughout your system. Usually, with the first contact, you'll spot a little boil or two, about the size of a pencil dot on paper. It percolates throughout your body. Mine, on my arm, spread to my stomach.

First bout in the summer: July, 2011.
These boils are terribly itchy.
OCT. 2011:
The open boils spread
onto other areas if unchecked.
I found two boils on my ankle a few days ago, again. This was my second contact.

Each time I am in contact with another poisonous plant, the attack is worse. These poisonous plants give us Contact dermatitis. If not checked, it can be horrible, as I can attest. The ER doctors failed to diagnose it, while the Triage Nurse suggested that was what it looked like. I learned my lesson and apply the cream at the first sign of it.

I found Wild Parsnip in my garden, likely transported by birds. It is an invasive species. It is moving from South and Eastern Ontario, across the continent to the west.

Wild Parsnip
Pastinaca sativa

Wild parsnip is an invasive plant native to Europe and Asia. It was likely brought to North America by European settlers, who grew it for its edible root. Since its introduction, wild parsnip has escaped from cultivated gardens and spread across the continent.

This is what they look like:
First year plant

The government website is very clear about which chemicals may or may not be used these days. I used spray-on bottles, designated to kill poison ivy. They work, after a few days being absorbed, on the Wild Parsnip. You can spot the Wild Parsnip with the pretty, yellow flowers appearing in an umbel. It looks like Cow parsnip, which is harmless, and has the same umbels. In fact, the plants look much like dill weed, with the same system of umbels!

Almost looks like dill weed!

You can tell the difference as the dill weed has skinny little leaves, and smaller flowers in an umbel, much like cow parsnip, Queen Anne's Lace.

Other Resources

Here are the incredible numbers of plants in ditches.

I went in and told the family this was poisonous
-see it to the right of and below the blue?
They knew and had been trying to get rid of it.

Stay away from it. It is terrible stuff.

This is white, Water Parsnip,
found in our dried up frog pond.
It is a marsh plant.
This plant I sprayed with
Poison Ivy killer spray.
Thankfully, it died.
They look innocuous.


Nancy J said...

You would wonder how a plant so dangerous can look so delicate and pretty. The water parsnip, and the others on the roadside, so many all there, are there signs to say these are poisonous, or is everyone so well aware of them? Cheers,Jean

William Kendall said...

I've never seen that reaction before from something like this. Yikes!

Kay said...

I've seen plants like that during our travels, but not sure if it's the poisonous stuff. That is so scary. Lovely photos though.

Hilary said...

Good to know.. this is all new territory to me. I hope you heal quickly.