A Vermont woman received the equivalent of second-degree burns after falling into a wild parsnip plant.
While travelling to the southern part of the state, Charlotte Murphy was working with a local artist when she pulled her vehicle over to the side of the road, got out, lost her footing and fell into the plant. The fall caused the plant to break, and the oils from the plant came into contact with her bare legs.
Murphy didn’t realize that she was in any danger and continued on with her day, spending most of the day in the hot sun (which only made things worse).
Two days later, red bumps began appearing on her legs. There was not itching or pain, so Murphy didn’t think anything was wrong. Murphy was familiar with the dangers of the wild parsnip plant, but she still didn’t think anything of it.
Wild parsnip contains chemicals in the juices of its green leaves, stems and fruits that can cause an intense, localized burn – actually, a sunburn.
Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine says the following about the wild parsnip plant:
When the chemicals from a wild parsnip plant are absorbed into skin, it can make that person more sensitive to ultraviolet light from the sun. The chemicals – more formally known as furocoumarins – “bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes,” which “destroys cells and skin tissue, though the reaction takes time to produce visible damage,” according to the magazine.
After a few days, the little red bumps turned into larger bumps and became itchy and painful.
Murphy’s legs began to swell and large blisters formed quickly, within one day.
Murphy went to the hospital and the doctor’s had never seen such a bad case from interaction with the wild parsnip plant. Murphy was sent to the Vermont trauma and burn center where she will make a full recovery.