Trail Runners Beware Of This Poisonous Weed

Trail runners need to be on the alert for this poisonous weed that is found in all 50 states.


Summer is here and that means its time to hit the trails running. It also means wild poisonous weeds are back in bloom and one of them has already landed someone in the ER.

Wendy Prusha was gardening at her home in Union, Iowa when she came in contact with Wild Parsnip. By the next day, she had developed a red, blistered and bubbly rash on her forearm and was rushed to the emergency room. “It just bubbled up overnight,” Prusha said in an interview with Fox 17. “The oils sit on your skin. It’s a constant burning and it eats away your skin.”

Wild Parsnip is found in all 50 states and is most commonly found along roadside ditches, bike paths, open fields and prairies. Parsnip is also found along hiking and running trails.

With a look similar to Queen Anne’s lace, this poisonous wild flower disguises itself to pack a punch of pain. Parsnip is yellow and can grow about four feet tall, making contact with passerby tail runners a high risk. When the weed comes in contact with the skin and is exposed to sunlight, it causes a rash imitating severe burns.

The rashes caused by wild parsnip can last for weeks and scars can last for years. While you’re lacing up for your next trail run, make sure to stay protected from the weedburns as well as the sunburns.

If you do come in contact with wild parsnip, Center for Disease Control recommends the following:

  • Immediately rinse skin with rubbing alcohol, poison plant wash, or degreasing soap (such as dishwashing soap) or detergent, and lots of water.
  • Rinse frequently so that wash solutions do not dry on the skin and further spread the poison.
  • Apply wet compresses, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone cream to the skin to reduce itching and blistering.
  • Take an oatmeal baths to relieve itching.
  • Call 911 or go to the ER if you have a severe case or allergic reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing.