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Dear Sharon another fine article, although I do not know your Cow parsnip as it is Native to North America!
However in Britain we have what people call Cow parsnip and that is Heracleum sphondylium, this also grows alongside wet ditches, and is considered invasive!
Although I have dealt with Cow parsnip, it had no affect on me whatsoever, although it does with my wife.
The most invasive and indeed dangerous species was imported, and that is Heracleum mantegazzianum, or the Giant Hogweed.
Giant Hogweed can grow to 10-15 feet tall and although we were told it could cause skin irritations, we were not exactly told much about the precautions to take.
So whilst at University we were told to cut a lot of these dreadful weeds down; it was a warm sunny day and with Bill hooks we got started on these Triffids, horrible towering like things, I started by cutting whilst my friend had to lift and stack, swapping over to take turns at each job!
By lunchtime my friend was complaining about blisters on his arms and my right arm had a rash as well, other people were also complaining.
We had no gloves and were working in T shirts due to the weather, stupid mistake, but we were not told!
By two a clock things got worse and my friend who is a Blonde was in agony, so I jumped on my Motocross bike and went back to University to get my Lecturer (we did not have mobiles then), he raced back there in the minibus and took everyone to Hospital!
They really did not know what to do as it was unheard of to them, so they did their best, they let the walking wounded out with loads of pills and Anti Histamine, the others were kept in, my friend was so acute he was shipped to a specialist Hospital in London!
Sharon I did read somewhere that it is in the U.S.A. now, so if you see something that looks like a cow parsnip is a lot bigger with 2 and a half foot flowers, don't touch it!
I do not know the relative Authorities in the U.S.A. but I am sure they must have them, for we do.
Do not try to be brave and tackle it yourself; I have heard all the stories that if you cut them down on a non sunny day they will not hurt you, that is rubbish, if you are sweating and you get the sap on you, you will surely know about it!
For they have also proved that some electric lights also give of certain rays very near to sunlight, so that will do it as well!
Regards from London.
Wow!! What a horrible story, Neil. I have not heard of this plant, and hope very much that I will never meet it head on.
Being one of those who has Native American blood running through my veins, I have not encountered much that affects my skin. Mosquitoes do not like me, nor does poison ivy and a few other aggravating, irritating plants. But I don't take any chances with things I do not know.
So thank you for your advice. I will do a search, so I will know what it looks like. Sometimes I find myself touching plants, lifting the leaf, checking the stem, sniffing it, just because I don't know what it is. I'll try to refrain from doing that in the future.
Thank you. It is always a pleasure to hear from you, and wonderful to hear your stories... Though this one is quite sad.
Sharon, enjoyed your article about a plant that I've never heard of; seems there is always one more plant to learn about--- which is one reason gardening is so interesting! I like the name, 'Pushki', I don't know why; I think I could even name a dog that...Ha! Like you, I like the little rosettes before it blooms; I also like the fronds of a new fern leaf before it's unfurled, just a fuzzy baby...must be a maternal thing! I'm so glad you had a fun & learning experience in Alaska, & are sharing it with us. =)
Thanks Petal, yes, I just answered someone else tonight and mentioned again that my favorite part of the plant is the rosette period. And I too love the curled/unfurled fern leaf. That's also when the ferns are best to eat. Yep, I've done that too, and know that NA ancestors ate fern fronds when there was no much else available.
Petal, I sure wish you would jump in feet first and join us full force on DG...it is always so good to see you!
Sharon, I probably will subscribe to DG, as soon as I read the fine print, Ha! I really didn't know that you could eat ferns...really? Is there a certain type that is eaten, or any variety, since there are so many? Is it eaten raw, like in a salad? What about Holly Fern, (which is the lone survivor by the back door, near the a.c. drip-pipe, which the puppies have chewed on & stepped on, and it still manages to hang in there, but I'm afraid to transplant it to my little fenced-off garden, lest it might die)? Hey, there's you a new idea for an article, 'No Money for the Grocery Store? Eat your Fern!' ---or have you already written one on that subject?! =)
Very interesting article, Sharon.
Besides useful, obviously a lot nicer plant than giant hogweed (as described above).
David has the latter in his garden in an inaccessible spot. We've been warned about it.