Wild parsnip becoming more invasive, can lead to burns and blist - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Wild parsnip becoming more invasive, can lead to burns and blisters

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(Photo provided by Charlotte Murphy) (Photo provided by Charlotte Murphy)

[Note: some of the images you see in the video above may be disturbing to some] 

A Vermont woman is sounding the alarm about an invasive weed she stumbled into, giving her severe burns and blisters. 

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources said that the weed is making its way into western Massachusetts.

Charlotte Murphy wants to share her story so that there is a greater awareness of a weed called wild parsnip.  

It's actually not new, but experts said it is becoming more invasive.

Murphy was working outside and came into contact with wild parsnip, an invasive species that experts said looks like the very common Queen Ann's lace, but is yellow instead of white.  

Murphy noted that oil from the plant created second-degree burns that turned into massive blisters.  

In a Facebook post hoping to warn others, she wrote: "My leg...rubbed against it's broken leaves when I slid into the brush, so I went about my day in the hot sun, thus activating the plant oil even more." 

The oil from the plant creates a chemical reaction, according to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, making  the skin incredibly sensitive to the sun.

Murphy went on to say: "...I woke up with blisters on my leg...they grew exponentially to a point where my leg was swollen and I couldn't walk (then spreading) to my other leg, arms and fingers."

"Do not touch and if you do touch, make sure you're wearing proper clothing, gloves, cover your face and your hands," said Tom Wheeler with A.W. Brown Pet and Garden Center in East Longmeadow.

Wheeler said that like the equally toxic giant hogweed plant, the wild parsnip is hardy and hard to kill.  Two chemicals are known to do the trick:  glysophate and trychloralpide.

"Which is available over the counter in a variety of brands and ingredients.  If mixed properly and sprayed on most cases repeatedly, it will bring the product, in this case the hog weed and whatever, under control over time," Wheeler explained.

Unlike giant hogweed, which can grow up to 14 feet tall, wild parsnip grows to about five feet, but like the giant hogweed, as Murphy found, can be just as toxic.

Murphy is undergoing burn treatment once a week and should make a full recovery.  

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources warns residents to be on the look out for wild parsnip and giant hogweed, that they are tracking their progression, and to contact them if you come across either. 

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