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Harmful plant species in New York: Watch out for these plants outdoors that can harm humans

With summer comes outdoor activities for humans, but it also brings harmful plant species that can hurt people who come across them.

giant hogweed, a harmful plant in new york state.

One of the most common ones is poison ivy, as well as poison oak and sumac.

These can cause itching red rashes or blisters.

While the rashes can’t be spread person to person, the oil on someone’s clothing or personal items that touched the plant can spread it, according to the Evening Tribune.

What are some of the most harmful plants in New York State for humans and what can they do?

Cow parsnip

One commonly found plant that can harm humans is cow parsnip.

According to New York Upstate, this is just one of three plants that can hurt people from the carrot family.

Cow parsnip is native to the upstate NY region.

Hogweed and wild parsnip are related to cow parsnip, but those two are not native to upstate New York.

This plant can be found in wooded areas, grassy areas, and along the edges of streams, rivers, and roads.

It’s mainly found in cooler areas of New York.

The stems have broad, flat, white flower clusters on the top and look similar to giant hogweed.

It’s not as harmful as the giant hogweed, but it can still hurt you.

The plant creates a sap that causes photo-toxicity in the sun light, making you vulnerable to burns.

The rashes can become itchy and blister, taking time to heal and causing scars.

You should wash the area that was impacted with soap and water and cover it for at least 48 hours.


Giant hogweed

This plant is an invasive species in New York State and can cause permanent scarring and blindness.

The plant can grow almost anywhere, and thrives where there’s a lot of light and moist soil.

Looking similar to cow parsnip, this plant is much larger and can reach 7-14 feet tall.

The sap, if on your skin, will block natural protection from sunlight, causing you to burn quickly, and badly.

This can leave scarring, and if you get the sap in your eyes you could go blind.

Sap is released if something brushes against the plant’s stems or leaves.

You will need to wash the area that was touched with soap and cold water then keep out of sunlight for 48 hours.

You can use topical steroids if a reaction occurs to slow severity and make it more comfortable.

If you get sap in your eyes, rinse them with water and wear sunglasses.

Poison ivy

Poison ivy is incredibly common, and the plant is often hiding in plain sight.

It’s most often found at the edges of woods, paths and in meadows.

They thrive anywhere with good soil and moisture as well as some shade.

The plant has three leaflets with the middle being the largest and on the stem.

The plant can grow as a vine and even look like a shrub.

Poison ivy that’s flowering will have small yellow flowers and small white berries.

The oil that gets on the skin can cause a rash that appears within 24 hours.

Not everyone will react the same or even experience a severe reaction.

If you find that you touched it, immediately rinse your skin and wash any clothing that may have the oil on them.

Do not scratch blisters, because it could cause an infection.

If itching is an issue, take short lukewarm baths with oatmeal or baking soda.

If you feel like you’re having a more severe reaction, it could be allergic and you should seek medical attention immediately.


Poison sumac

Poison sumac is usually found in wet or flooded soils.

This means you’ll only come across it in swamps and peat bogs.

It looks like a small tree with gray bark and has the similar flowers and berries that poison ivy has.

The reaction is similar to poison ivy, but because it’s so uncommon it’s harder to identify.

Treatment should be the same as poison ivy.

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is found near the banks of streams and rivers or hiking trails.

There are stinging hairs that stick out from the edge of the plant.

The plant can grow tall but typically doesn’t and they have dark green leaves that taper at the end.

There are what appear to be veins and teeth on the leaves and a cluster of small flowers at the base of each leaf pair.

If your skin touches this plant, it will sting and burn or itch and may last for several hours.

The hairs are sharp enough to go through clothes and gloves.

The tip of the hair that is touched breaks off and releases chemicals into the skin that act as an irritant.

A rash of small bumps and hives will appear, and should not be touched for at least ten minutes so removing the chemicals is easier.

You should then wash the area with soap and water, then use tape to remove any leftover hairs.

Water chestnut

Water chestnut is aquatic and grows in freshwater lakes, ponds, streams and rivers.

It is found in 43 counties in New York.

They are fruits, and appear hard, diamond shaped, and with four inch barbed spines.

The issue with these isn’t so much that they can harm humans with a rash or allergic reaction, but they are sharp and can cut feet.

They may be at the bottom of a body of water or wash up on a shoreline where you aren’t wearing shoes.

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip is located on the side of roads, in fields, pastures, and other areas where the ground has been disturbed.

This plan can cause burns that last for 48 hours and can worsen in sunlight.

This plant can grow as high as 5 feet tall and has small yellow flowers clustered together.

It has flat, brown, slightly winged seeds.

Not only can this plan give you burns for up to 48 hours that worsen in sunlight, but it could leave your skin sensitive to the sun for years.

Treatment is the same as many others; wash with soap and water then cover for 48 hours.


Related: New York works to battle harmful plants like hogweed, the spotted lanternfly, and beech tree disease as many invasive species spread rapidly

Categories: New York StateNews

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