Toxic plant wild parsnip is prevalent in the area

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Residents are warning of the presence of an invasive species called wild parsnip that can cause severe burns and blisters. 

Stems, leaves and flowers contain chemicals that can cause human skin to blister severely when exposed to sunlight (photodermatitis). 

Wild parsnip is in the carrot family, like the native Cow Parsnip and Angelica and non-native Queen Anne’s Lace but also like the invasive Giant Hogweed, which is also toxic.

Wild parsnip has Yellowish-green flower clusters 10 to 20 cm across. It has distinctive toothed leaves often shaped like a mitten. The Leaves consist of 2 to 5 pairs of leaflets that grow across from each other along the stem, and one diamond-shaped leaflet on the end.

It has been reported along the 6/7 Sideroad Nottawasaga, Airport Road and County Road 9 but it is also prevalent throughout the Nottawsaga Valley watershed and beyond.

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. Wild parsnip roots are edible, but the sap of the plant can cause severe burns. Collecting the plant from the wild should only be done with extreme care.

People are urged to wear protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear when working around or with this plant. May reduce the quality and saleability of agricultural forage crops such as hay, oats and alfalfa, because the chemical compounds that are present in the plant reduce weight gain and fertility in livestock that eat it.

To report invasive species, visit www.eddmaps.org/ontario and for more information on the plant visit www.nvca.on.ca.

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