[Photo courtesy City of Oshawa]

Watch out for Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip

Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip continue to be an increasing concern across Ontario and can pose a health risk to people and their pets, said an alert issued by the City of Oshawa.

They look like colourful wildflowers but are actually toxic plants that are often found along the edges of parks, open spaces, trails and roadsides. Growth of the plants begin in the spring and lasts through early autumn, it pointed out.

The plant sap contains chemicals that may cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to severe burning and blistering when exposed to the sun. Symptoms typically occur within 48 hours and consist of painful blisters that may result in scarring, it said.

“Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip are currently flowering in Ontario, including in local areas. Do not touch or pick the flowers from these plants. Please warn your children to not touch the flowers.

“The best way to avoid contact is to become familiar with what the plants look like and ensure that you, your children and pets avoid the plants,” it added.

Wild Parsnip: Wild Parsnip has yellow flowers that will grow up to 1.5 metres tall. The single steam of the plant is smooth featuring leaves arranged in pairs featuring sharp mitten shaped leaflets.

Cow Parsnip: To identify Cow Parsnip look for a 1 to 2.5 metre tall stem that has a few purple areas and deep ridges with fuzzy hairs. The plant features white round flower clusters with leaves showing similar shape to a maple leaf, or an open palm with three fingers outstretched.

For more information, visit www.oshawa.ca/weeds or call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.

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