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Grow with KARE: Wild parsnip

Calling all citizen scientists! This dangerous and invasive species can cause severe burns. The University of Minnesota wants your help in learning about it.

Walking along the Luce Line Trail in Golden Valley, Bobby and I were on the hunt for wild parsnip for a couple reasons. the first is that it's a dangerous plant that we all should be able to recognize. And second, the University of Minnesota has a new citizen science project that focuses in part on wild parsnip.

Identifying the invasive weed is step one in staying safe from it. There are some key characteristics that help tell it apart from similar plants.

  • Look for deep grooves on the stem.
  • the leaves are coarsely-toothed large and irregular with several leaflets.
  • Flowers are small and yellow in flat clusters that form an umbel.
  • 2 to 5 feet tall.
  • In it's immature first year, small plants are only inches high and resemble cilantro

The sap of the plant is where the danger lies. Once on your skin, the sap reacts with sunlight to cause severe burns. If you come in contact with it, cover the skin with clothing or a towel and head inside to wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Monitor it for any burning.

Seek professional service or advice from the MN DNR to remove the plant.

Identifying it is of course the first step in learning about this plant. And that's just what the University of Minnesota wants to do... learn about wild parsnip and its phenology along with Japanese knotweed in a program called Pesky Plant Trackers.

The project seeks citizen scientists to find and passively observe the pesky plant to note the timing on its development and how that relates to its location and conditions. The idea is that the information will help several Minnesota agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture make decisions on how to eradicate this particularly dangerous invasive.

Join Pesky Plant Trackers as a citizen scientist today!

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