A couple of weeks ago I was mowing my lawn and ran over a patch of weeds. I didn't think much about it until my skin started burning and my eyes turned red and swelled up like I had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson (see the picture below...I look lovely). So I thought, "I wonder what other weeds are dangerous here in Upstate New York?" Well, here's what I found.

You may have heard a few of these clever rhymes to help you remember what plants are poisonous or will at the very least cause some serious itching if you come in contact with them. "Leaves Of Three, Leave It Be" or "Harry Vine, No Friend Of Mine" or even "Red Leaves In Spring, It's A Dangerous Thing." Sound familiar?

I learned all of those when I attended YMCA summer camp because we had a lot of poison ivy and poison oak in the woods around the camp. I think most of us know to avoid poison ivy, but what about other dangerous plants that could be lurking in your own backyard?

The New York Department of Conservation has these tips to avoid coming in contact with these dangerous weeds in New York.

  • Learn how to identify giant hogweed, wild parsnip, cow parsnip, poison ivy, poison sumac, and stinging nettle.
  • Stay on the trails and away from areas known to have these plants.
  • Carefully wash any sap from clothing, equipment, and pets.
  • If you think you have Giant Hogweed or Wild Parsnip on your property, or you see it in the community, report it to ghogweed@dec.ny.gov, 845-256-3111 or iMapInvasives (leaves DEC website). If emailing, please include photos if possible to help with identification.
  • Do not touch, cut, or collect parts of these plants, even for identification purposes.

For additional information check out the New York Upstate website.

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