Written by Shelley Russell, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
It's a flowering weed spreading rapidly across the state.
Wild parsnip patches can be found in ditches and pastures in direct sunlight.
Experts warn there are health risks when humans come into contact with the invasive weed.
"It was really bad. I had more than just a brush with wild parsnip, I knelt down on the stem with my bare knee, absorbed some of the oil right into my blood stream, and had blisters appearing randomly all over my body. So I was pretty miserable for a few weeks," said Kirk Henderson of Waterloo.
Henderson is a retired roadside specialist and knows how to spot the invasive weed quickly.
He recommends people look for a patch of yellow flowers blooming on thick stems that are about three to four feet tall.
He said the flowers bloom on stems in the shape of an upside-down umbrella.
"Just think of it as a plant that's looking out for itself and cares nothing about you and walk around it," he said.
Henderson said if a person should be exposed to wild parsnip, he or she should shower immediately and contact a physician.
Henderson said in the past 20 years the state has made an effort to restore prairie along roadsides. He said the state has completed more than 70,000 acres of native plantings, and according to Henderson those areas are less prone to wild parsnip invasions.
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