Wild parsnip plant burns boy's hand
The Young family of Kanata wants to spread the message of wild parsnip infestation. The plant’s toxic sap caused burns and blisters on their four-year-old-son George’s right hand.
George Young’s tiny hand is covered in big yellow blisters, three days after the boy says he touched the invasive species on his way to a splash pad with his summer camp classmates. Once the sap from the steam touched the boy’s skin and was exposed to sunlight, rashes formed.
“I dressed his wound and I called the city immediately,” said George’s mother Ashlyn Young. “I want my kids, and all kids to go outside,” she said, “And not have to worry about coming home with chemical burns.”
The city is dealing with an infestation of wild parsnip in several areas of the city; including South Kanata. Councillor Allan Hubley confirmed the city is spraying the plants but the entire process takes 3 to 5 years.
“It's a weed but it's a really dangerous weed,” said Hubley. “The frustrating part for the city and for myself as a councillor, is it's not something you can just spray something on it and it disappears.”
The plant, native to Europe and Asia, likely brought here by European settlers.The wild parsnip weed, particularly widespread in south Kanata, surrounds fields, parks, and sidewalks.
“I don't remember any other year where it was this bad,” said Ashlyn Young.
My wife is in health care but I’m not, said the boy’s father, Stacy Young. “Seeing these giant, yellow blisters forming, I was panicked.”
George’s summer camp class is likely going to play it safe; steering clear of the weeds, according to Ashlyn Young.
“One of the educators had told me they're probably going to stop doing those excursions just because the public areas around it they're just wildly infested and it's just not safe to take the kids out.”
The wild parsnip plant can't be removed or treated effectively, city officials say, because they’ve started to bloom and their seeds would spread and multiply.
“We've almost completed the spray program because the plant has gone to flower and to seed; it's ineffective from this point in time so we suggest to just stay away from this plant,” said Laila Gibbons, Ottawa’s Director of Roads and Parking Services.
According to Councillor Allan Hubley, the parsnip problem was so bad last summer, the nearby parkette was closed for several weeks after the weed spread to the sandbox area. The city has posted several signs warning the public of the appearance and consequences of handling the wild parsnip.
“The city mentioned to me, we do have some signs up, but it's not very helpful when you have little kids walking along the sidewalk when they can't even read the signs yet,” said Ashlyn Young.
Anyone with concerns of wild parsnip located near city streets, parks, and sidewalks is asked to call 3-1-1.