Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Wild parsnip spreading in Wright County
July 27, 2009

Wright Co. residents will be reimbursed for spraying

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – The wild parsnip population “exploded pretty good this year,” Wright County Urban Specialist Brian Sanoski said, which could be dangerous for people who come in contact with the harmful plant.

The juice of wild parsnip can cause a rash and blistering and discoloration of the skin in the presence of sunlight, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site.

Two girls, ages 2 and 5, recently came in contact with the plant, and had “scars from legs to head,” Sanoski said.

“I’m assuming they were picking flowers and thought the wild parsnip was a flower,” he explained.

“I had it myself a couple years ago,” he added. Some people from his office tested the plant be putting a pinhead size amount on their skin.

“The next day it was the size of a dime,” Sanoski said.

The most common places for wild parsnip in Wright County are the US Highway 12 corridor, along Highway 55, and French Lake Township, Sanoski said.

“We are always on the lookout for it,” Franklin Township board supervisor Bill McMullen said. Lately, however, thistles have probably been the most common noxious weeds, he said.

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is the most recent addition to Wright County’s invasive species list. According to the Wright County Soil and Water District, more people are coming into contact with wild parsnip because of its rapid spread into open habitats and roadsides.

“It’s really invading the grasslands,” Sanoski said. “We’re spraying pretty much constantly.”

Typically, it is best to spray herbicides in the spring and fall, he said. In the spring, the plants are smaller and easier to kill, and in the fall, spraying attacks rosettes that could come the following year.

Other ways to control the invasive plant include cutting the plant out with a shovel, burning it, and mowing. Mowing, however, can break the plant into several smaller plants instead of killing it, Sanoski said.

“If you’re going to mow, follow up with treatment, and mow often,” he recommended.

This year, Wright County is offering a 100 percent financial reimbursement for residents who spray for the invasive weed.

“It’s going to take a lot of people,” Sanoski said.

Other counties have also experienced problems with wild parsnip, Sanoski said.

“Meeker has quite a bit, and Stearns is on the heavy lookout for it,” he said. “We wish it wasn’t as common. It’s working its way to the north.”

In addition to being harmful to humans, wild parsnip and noxious weeds could be “potentially displacing other natural vegetation,” Carver County Program Coordinator Greg Graczyk said.

“It’s beneficial to have diversity,” he said. “Just like if you had mashed potatoes every night.”

Total elimination of wild parsnip, however, may never happen.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever eradicate it,” Sanoski said. “It’s very resilient. The seed can germinate in the ground for up to four years.”

“It’s a heck of a plant,” he added.

For more information on wild parsnip or other noxious weeds, or to report a sighting in Wright County, contact Sanoski by e-mail at brian.sanoski@mn.nacdnet.net or call the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District at (763) 682-1970.

Relieve symptoms

If you come in contact with wild parsnip, try these tips from the Wright County Soil and Water District.

• Cover affected area with a cool, wet cloth

• If blisters appear, try not to rupture as long as possible.

• To avoid infection, keep area clean and apply antiseptic cream.


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