Wild parsnip – an invasive and potentially dangerous plant – has been spotted in the Ethel Park area of Beaverton.
In an interview, Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb said the plant is growing on lots along Ethel Park Boulevard between Second Street to Sixth Street.
He noted in a social media post that it’s not the first time that wild parsnip has sprouted up in the area as some was sprayed by the Township near Fourth Street a couple of summers ago.
“Unfortunately, it has returned. With this said, our works team has cut some of it off the side of the road. What remains will be sprayed by a contractor ASAP,” he wrote.
“Please do not go near the plant and also watch your pets.”
Wild parsnip is native to Europe and Asia and was likely brought to North America by European settlers, who grew it for its edible root.
“Since its introduction, wild parsnip has escaped from cultivated gardens and spread across the continent,” reads a notice from the provincial government.
“Wild parsnip, which is also known as poison parsnip, is a member of the carrot/parsley family. It typically grows a low, spindly rosette of leaves in the first year while the root develops. In the second year, it flowers on a tall stalk and then dies. The plant can form dense stands and spreads quickly in disturbed areas such as abandoned yards, waste dumps, meadows, open fields, roadsides and railway embankments. Its seeds are easily dispersed by wind and water, and on mowing or other equipment.”
It can grow up to 1.5 metres in height and produces sap containing chemicals that can cause human skin to react to sunlight, resulting in intense burns, rashes or blisters.
Those that encounter wild parsnip are encouraged to take precautions before handling the plant.
“Wear protective clothing, including waterproof gloves, long- sleeved shirts, pants and eye protection. A disposable spray suit over your normal clothing provides the best protection. Spray suits are commercial-grade waterproof coveralls. After working around the plant, remove your protective clothing carefully to avoid transferring any sap from your clothing onto your skin,” the notice from the Province reads.
“Wash your rubber gloves with soap and water, then take off your spray suit or outer clothing. Wash your rubber gloves again and then take them off. Finally, take off your protective eye wear. Put non-disposable clothing in the laundry and wash yourself immediately with soap and water.”