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Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip in Oshawa

Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip continue to be a concern across Ontario and can post a health risk to people and their pets, says the City of Oshawa.

Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip are currently flowering in Ontario, including in local areas in Oshawa.

They look like colourful wildflowers but are actually toxic plants that are often found along the edges of parks, open spaces, trails and roadsides. Growth of the plants begin in the spring and lasts through early autumn.

According to the city, the plant sap contains chemicals that may cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to severe burning and blistering when exposed to the sun. Symptoms typically occur within 48 hours and consist of painful blisters that may result in scarring.

The city says not to touch or pick the flowers from these plants, and to warn children to not touch the flowers.

The best way to avoid contact is to become familiar with what the plants look like and ensure everyone, and pets, avoid the plants.

Wild Parsnip has yellow flowers that will grow up to 1.5 metres tall. The single stem of the plant is smooth featuring leaves arranged in pairs featuring sharp mitten shaped leaflets.

To identify Cow Parsnip, look for a 1 to 2.5 metre tall stem that has a few purple areas and deep ridges with fuzzy hairs. The plant features white round flower clusters with leaves showing similar shape to a maple leaf, or an open palm with three fingers outstretched.

For more information, visit or call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.