Avoid Wild Parsnip. It's one bad weed and it's spreading in central New York. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is warning Central New Yorker's to steer clear of the plant and if you see it, report it.

Wild Parsnip actually has an edible root, but its sap can be extremely toxic and have effects that last for years.

Brushing against or breaking the plant releases sap that, combined with sunlight, can cause a severe burn within 24 to 48 hours. This reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis, can also cause discoloration of the skin and increased sensitivity to sunlight that may last for years.

The plant has become more widespread in New York and is most commonly found along roadways, fields, and pastures. The DEC has 3 tips on how to avoid making contact:

  • Learn to identify the plant in its various stages
  • Don't make contact with any part of the plant with your bare skin
  • Wear gloves, cover all extremities and even us eye protection if you'll be near the plant

The map below shows just the confirmed locations of Wild Parsnip and Officials say it is much more widespread.


This is how bad Wild Parsnip can be if the sap makes skin contact. You should wash the area with soap and water and keep it covered for at least 48 hours. If a skin reaction begins, keep the area out of the sunlight to prevent burning and contact a doctor.

The DEC asks you to report any sighting of Wild Parsnip. If possible take photos from a safe distance and upload information online including where you found it. Learn more in this Wild Parsnip fact sheet.


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