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Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

Wild parsnip contains toxic compounds called furanocoumarins found in the sap of plants stems, leaves and flowers. Furocoumarins become absorbed by the skin and energized when exposed to UV light from the sun on both sunny and cloudy days. These compounds can cause serious rashes, burns or blisters to skin exposed to the sap followed by sunlight. Contact with eyes may lead to temporary or permanent blindness. The plant poses a risk to agricultural workers, those involved with vegetation control, and to people unknowingly exposed to the plant in the wild.

Wild parsnip is a member of the Apiaceae family; the same family as culinary plants such as carrot and celery, and weed plants such as giant hogweed, and poison hemlock. Wild parsnip is a tall plant that matures, flowers and fruits once, and then dies. One plant can produce over 900 seeds. Growth of the plant begins in the spring and lasts through early autumn.

Wild parsnip is most often found in areas exposed to full sun, although it can grow in the semi-shade of forests and riverbanks. Wild parsnip invades disturbed areas such as roadsides, pastures, crop land and fields. It out-competes native vegetation, particularly crowding out lower-growing plants.

Further information on the plant may be obtained by calling the
Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.

Reporting Sightings of Wild Parsnip

If you are on the trails in Durham Region or around the province this summer and notice wild parsnip, report your sightings as per the links below.  Remember to stay on marked trails, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes and keep your dogs on a leash to avoid coming into contact with this noxious plant.

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