DNR Q & A: Steer clear of wild parsnip

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources field staff, resource managers and the DNR Information Center staff answer many questions every day about natural resources topics. Here is one of them:

Q. What common poisonous plants should I avoid while camping and hiking this summer?

A. Poison ivy is a fairly common plant that everyone should learn to recognize. You may have heard the phrase, “Leaves of three - let it be,” referring to poison ivy. The oils on its leaves can cause an itchy rash.
While poison ivy is native to Minnesota, there is a non-native, invasive plant called wild parsnip that can cause painful burns. If you get the sap of wild parsnip on your skin, and your skin is then exposed to sunlight, this can cause a chemical burn.
Wild parsnip has small yellow flowers that grow in flat-topped clusters. Keep an eye out for wild parsnip along roadsides, trails and stream banks.
You can take some simple steps to avoid exposure to hazardous plants while camping and hiking:
• Learn to identify plants that are hazardous.
• Don’t eat any wild plants or parts of plants.
• Cover your skin to prevent contact with hazardous plants. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are good protection.
 • Stay on trails to minimize contact with plants.

-- Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator

 

For more information, call the DNR information line at 296-6157 or go to the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
 

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