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Discussion: is this plant toxic?

in: Orienteering; General

May 31, 2020 10:14 PM # 
saw this plant in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Resembles something I've seen warnings about in a rogaining event newsletter, that creates burns to the touch.

can someone identify it?
May 31, 2020 10:25 PM # 
My vote is cow parsnip - toxic to the skin but not as toxic as giant hogweed.
Jun 1, 2020 12:26 AM # 
Clint will probably weigh in with a positive identification, but I'd say don't touch it.
Jun 1, 2020 1:49 AM # 
Looks like a Heracleum species, but I don't know them well enough to discern them apart. But most of them contain compounds that can cause severe skin rashes - some species more than others, and some people more sensitive than others. I'd avoid all the species unless you know otherwise that they won't cause issues for you.
Jun 1, 2020 2:26 AM # 
I’ve been afraid to encounter that stuff but haven’t run across it yet. I agree—don’t touch.
Jun 1, 2020 7:12 AM # 
Yes, it's cow parsnip. It can give bad rash if you run through it and get exposed to sunlight. The stems are edible when peeled. Lots of it here, including some in my back yard.
Jun 1, 2020 9:57 AM # 
Is it toxic to cows?
Jun 1, 2020 10:27 AM # 
Anne Dentino (orienteer then from Massachusetts, now living in Maine) had an encounter with it in Canada in the summer of 1991. The blistering was still evident over a month later.
Jun 1, 2020 12:19 PM # 
From the above article:

Other Names: Pushki, Indian celery, hogweed, celery sorters disease.
Jun 2, 2020 1:47 AM # 
if its just a single isolated plot, I'd recommend prompt action to keep it from establishing or spreading.
Jun 11, 2020 4:55 AM # 
I got that in Canada in the 90’s!
Jun 11, 2020 8:24 AM # 
This plant - or a variation of it (Heracleum mantegazzianum) - also exists in Sweden and is considered poisonous (or rather phototoxic) and causes irritation to the skin.
Swedish name: Jätteloka or Jättebjörnloka
Jun 11, 2020 11:23 AM # 
Giant hogweed in the UK ("Britain's most dangerous plant" according to the Daily Mail). I brushed by it in a Welsh 6 Day at Pembrey some 30-odd years ago and had blisters the size of sausages on my arms for some time afterwards. Didn't notice the sting at the time however ...
Jun 11, 2020 11:39 AM # 
In the UK we have a very similar looking plant, with a very similar name (cow parsley). It's not poisonous...

Ivy and oak aren't poisonous here either.
Jun 11, 2020 12:42 PM # 
These crop up around here sometimes. Can be painful.
Jun 11, 2020 3:14 PM # 
There were jungles of this 'giant Hogweed' at the 2017 WRC in Latvia. They called it Sosnowsky's hogweed, and it was for us, certainly the most memorable feature of the event. It was fine, unless you got some on your skin and that skin was exposed to the sun, resulting in very severe blistering. Luckily for us, there were already 'elephant tracks' through the worst areas. Some teams were not so lucky!
The plant itself isn't toxic and I believe was originally introduced to feed cows.
Jun 11, 2020 9:49 PM # 
Sounds like Woodland Trust calls giant hogweed "hemlock".
Jun 12, 2020 8:54 PM # 
There was a story in our local newspaper a few years ago claiming someone (a child?) came upon hemlock and sustained some nasty burns. I was sceptical because I'd never heard you could get burns from hemlock, and sure enough, a few days later they wrote it had been in fact giant hogsweed.

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