Page last updated on 03/8/2011
Natural hazards of parks and open spaces
WILD or cow parsnip prevalent in Carmarthenshire parks is a natural hazard of the all hedgerows, countryside pastures and open developed areas.
At the Discovery Centre on Llanelli’s North Dock warning notices of its presence have been posted and there are a further 10 notices at entrances to the Millennium Coastal Park with pictures of the weed.
At this time of the year county countryside officer Simeon Jones advises people should be cautious of nettles, broom, blackberry and dewberry bramble, hogweed and ragwort as well as wild parsnip all of which exist in open spaces and can cause similar problems.
Wild parsnip causes a non-allergic dermatitis that can occur with the right combination of plant juice and sunlight.
You can touch and brush against the plant - carefully - without harm, unlike stinging nettles. Wild parsnip is only a risk when its sap gets on skin from broken leaves or stems. Fair-skinned may be extra-sensitive to tiny amounts of sap.
The florets of the plant can survive in mown grass and still be a risk. Bruised and damaged remnants of the plants in mown grass are difficult to detect. The mature plants are easily recognisable. It can grow to seven feet tall and has a splay of bright yellow florets. When stunted in mown glass of a couple of inches height it is difficult to detect but its sap is still reactive on exposed skin.
Wild parsnip causes a modest burning pain for a day or two, and then the worst is over. Exposure to sunlight after brushing against the plant can exacerbate the reaction. Avoiding exposure, of course, is the wisest tactic. By learning to recognize the plant in different seasons and in different stages of growth, you can steer clear of it, or protect yourself by wearing gloves, long pants and long-sleeve shirts. If you do get the plant sap on your skin, the sooner you thoroughly wash the area, the less you will be affected.
At this time of the year people should be careful of nettles, broom, blackberry and dewberry bramble, hogweed and ragwort all of which exist in open spaces and can cause similar problems.
PRESS NOTE: For further information please contact Carmarthenshire