Wild Parsnip, Poison Hemlock on the rise in Ohio: What to watch for

We all know to look for poison ivy, now we need to look for these weeds too
Updated: Jun. 27, 2019 at 2:46 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - You may want to go for a hike now that it’s finally warm and dry, or maybe you’re planning to do some weeding in your garden. But before you put on those hiking boots or start pulling pesky weeds, there are two plants you should be aware of.

You may spot the yellow flowers of wild parsnip, the sap of which can cause severe blisters or even burns to your skin.

You may also come across the white flowers of poison hemlock, which can cause respiratory failure if ingested.

To get a closer look, here’s a recent story Meteorologist Ashley Smith did on the plants:

“(Poison Hemock) can kill you if you ingest the toxins. The toxins are in the sap and you have to get it inside of you. Wild parsnip is on the outside. So you end up with almost a second degree sunburn,” said Joe Boggs, with Ohio State University Extension. “Certainly this spring with the rains didn’t hurt anything but it’s not the only reason. Their trajectory over the last 15-20 years has been on a constant rise.”

Boggs says it’s all about education. We all know to look for poison ivy, now we need to look for these weeds too.

And don’t be so quick to cut down the wild parsnip.

“If you do mow it, if you do cut it off, you need to make absolutely certain that you are protected against the sap. There have been reports of people using weed eaters, using clippers and things of that nature and have gotten sap on their legs and on their arms and then ended up in the hospital,” said Boggs.

Boggs says there are no signs of these weeds slowing down their growth here in the Buckeye State.

“Bottom line is they produce a lot of seed so you can go from one plant to 100s of plants in a very short period of time,” said Boggs.

If you’re wondering if there are any benefits to these two weeds, some insects will pollinate off of the flowers and those insects are not impacted by the poison nor is their nectar. That means you can keep eating honey safely.

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