Watch out for potentially harmful invasive plant

This is the time of year when a potentially harmful invasive plant goes to seed.

That’s why a crew from the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish refuge was out along the Root River near Brownsville on Wednesday.

They were removing Wild Parsnip. The weed’s broad, yellow flower looks similar to the white flowers of “Queen Anne’s Lace” of “Angelica.” It was originally brought here from Eurasia to be planted in people’s yards. But it escaped, and spread fast.

Wild Parsnip crowds out native plants, and the sap from the plant can react with sunlight to cause blisters or a rash on skin.

The plant is widespread. It’s especially abundant on roadsides and along train tracks. But it’s fairly easy to get rid of… in small quantities. “Especially if you only have a few plants, they can be easily dug if you’ve got a spade or any type of shovel,” says Tally Hamilton, a Biological Science Technician. “All you need to do is pop the root about one inch below ground and that’ll take care of the plant.”

Refuge crews work to remove different types of invasive plants at different times of the year, and volunteers are always needed. Learn more at the Refuge’s website.

“It’s hot. There are mosquitoes,” says Hamilton. “But it’s rewarding work!”