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Wild Parsnip Foes Attempt To Slow Its Spread

Beware the wild parsnip.

That’s a warning sprouting in emails around the state, as the invasive weed spreads. It looks like a little yellow umbrella atop a stem that can be as long as five feet tall. It won’t hurt to brush along it, but if you break the stem, and the sap on your skin is exposed to sunlight, you can get a nasty burn. Harry Roberts, of Norwich, is seeing more and more of this pesky weed as he motorcycles around the state.

“It’s a very sinister plant and it starts at the roadside and if you don’t mow the adjacent field it takes over the field,” he says.

Roberts says property owners are donning gloves and pulling it out, and some public works departments are trying to mow at just the right time.

“If you mow it too early the plants will often come back with a vengeance and instead of putting out two or three or four seed heads they’ll come back with many more just to try to survive,” he says.

But that’s easier said than done. Norwich’s Public Works Department mowed in early July, but didn’t eradicate the nuisance, so when it mows again in August, some seeds are likely to spread. In some hard hit communities, including Charlotte, citizen groups are forming to fight the invasion.