2012-08-02 / Community

Districts fight wild parsnip


Volunteers clear flowering wild parsnip from an area rest stop recently. 
Courtesy photo Volunteers clear flowering wild parsnip from an area rest stop recently. Courtesy photo MANISTIQUE – Wild parsnip – it may sound tasty, but it’s actually an invasive species that you’d do best to steer clear of. Like many invasive species, wild parsnip chokes out native plants once it gets a foothold in open areas. Even worse, the plant has a chemical in its sap which causes phytophotodermatitis. The plant juices react with skin in the presence of light and causes rashes, blistering, and even long-term skin discoloration.

For the second year in a row the Schoolcraft and Alger Conservation Districts have joined forces to remove wild parsnip from the MDOT Bauer rest area near Seney. District staff, student interns from Northern Michigan University, and a work crew from the Central UP Cooperative Weed Management Area cleared flowering wild parsnip plants from the area. The good news – wild parsnip was less plentiful this year than last.

The bad news – wild parsnip continues to spread rapidly along many roadsides. Parsnips can be identified by its heads of tiny yellow flowers, which resemble an upside-down umbrella, often clearly visible above other roadside plants.

What can residents do about wild parsnip? First, learn to recognize the plant and avoid touching it or getting the sap on the skin. If contact with the plant juices is made, minimize damage by covering the skin to protect it from sun exposure and wash thoroughly.

Second, help stop the plant from spreading. If wild parsnip is found, there are several ways to mechanically control it. If it’s a small patch, clip and double-bag flowers and seed heads, being very careful not to shake mature seeds loose. Then, with a shovel or planting bar, sever the plant stem an inch or two below the soil linehc to prevent reflowering. Do not put any flower or seed heads in compost heaps or public yard waste collection. If a patch is very large or dense, mow before the flowers have gone to seed. Since this will not kill the plant, re-mowing later in the season may be required. rn-Becasesure managerto wear rubber082012:gloves, eye protection, long sleevesLayoutand pants, and thoroughly wash clothes, gloves, and shoes afterward.

Third, spread the word. Let neighbors and friends know about this plant and how to handle it.

1Contact8/1/2012the Conservation District11:18Schoolcraft at 341-AM 8215Page or the Alger at 387-2222 for more information.

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