Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) can cause redness and blisters on exposed skin. A chemical in the juices of wild parsnips green leaves, stems, and fruits (furocoumarins, a kind of psoralen) can cause intense, localized burns triggered by sunlight (called phyto-photo-dermatitis). Ultraviolet light (even from a cloudy day) can cause furocoumarins in the skin to bind to the nuclear DNA and cell membranes, destroying cells and skin tissue. Moisture from sweating speeds the process. large blisters can appear a day or two later. Animals with light colored skin and little fur can also be burned. Skin is discolored to a dark red or brown and this hyper-pigmentation can last for up to two years. Parsnip burns often appear as streaks and long spots. Treat parsnip burns by covering the area with a cool, wet cloth. Keep blisters from rupturing as long as possible. See a doctor if you experience extensive blistering. Wild parsnip is originally from Europe and Asia and is not native to North America. The plant is now common in North America both in large patches and as scattered plants, where it often drives out native plants. For more information, see Burned by wild parsnip by David J. Eagan [external link].
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