Dangerous plant spreads throughout Kingston

The city urges the public to avoid wild parsnip because of the burn it causes to human skin.

Some of the yellow flowers that grow alongside many roads are called ‘wild parsnips’ and they are rampantly spreading across Kingston.

The City of Kingston is now urging the public to avoid direct contact with the plant because of the dangerous sap it produces.

“The wild parsnip is a public risk because if you get the plant’s sap on your skin, it can cause severe burns when exposed to the sun,” said Bill Linnen Manager of Operations at Kingston Public Works.

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Linnen said that if you are unsure if you’ve made contact with wild parsnip, you should wash your skin thoroughly, and if you see irritation or feel a burning sensation, you must seek medical attention.

For people who find the yellow plant on their property, the City has a disposal process that they ask all residents follow. First, put on gloves, and then remove the head of the plant and place it in a black plastic bag for a week in direct sunlight until the wild parsnip is completely dead. The City wants all residents to not burn the plant because of the toxic sap and the smoke produces when it is heated.

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The wild parsnip issue arrises each summer and the City says it is trying to control the spread of the plant, but it’s a tricky process.

“Wild parsnip is very difficult to manage because it spreads by its seed, but the seeds can lay dormant for multiple years, so often times you think you have controlled the plant in certain areas but it will grow back in a couple years,” Linnen said.

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According to the City of Kingston, there are a few ways to avoid the severe burns caused by the plant, such as:

  • When working around wild parsnip or when walking through dense vegetation, wear goggles, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Thoroughly wash boots and gloves with soap and water before taking off your protective clothing.
  • Children should be reminded not to pick wildflowers. Ensure children are able to identify wild parsnip in order to avoid exposure.

For more information about the wild parsnip visit the City of Kingston website.

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