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Gardening injuries vol. 4


By samjp


The case of the killer parsnip.

It was a warm yet cloudy Saturday afternoon in the mother-in-laws garden, helping tidy up and plant her dahlias. In the veg patch were the parsnips planted by the now late father-in-law last year. As they hadn’t been used over winter they had gone to flower, resulting in nearly 6ft of leaf and flower. “I’ll get those out for you” said the unsuspecting helper (aka me) and proceeded to pull up the huge plants, snapping them into pieces for the bin. At this point the helper was working gloveless and bare armed, but gloves were put on after this lest she encounter one of the many slugs.

Fast forward to Monday morning at work, the helper noticed what looked like bites on her arms – well blast, what’s had a nibble there?

Fast forward to Monday evening the bite like lumps have developed burn like blisters – what on earth?

Lots of googling later the helper declared “it’s the parsnips, them be killers you know”.

In all seriousness, I’ve been fairly lucky I think. The blisters have been small and not particularly painful (with the exception of the one I took the top off, crumbs that stings). I don’t know for sure its the parsnips but everything I’ve found on Google suggests it’s the most likely cause. Apparently the sap in parsnip is toxic, if it gets on your skin, then is exposed to sunlight it causes a type of chemical burn! Who’d have thunk it eh! Despite my daftness in the telling a cautionary tale for all you parsnip growers.

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I shall pay heed.....I have never heard of that before!

27 Jun, 2016


Wild parsnip can do this so your late father-in-law may have planted the wrong type of parsnip. The cultivated type of parsnip would never have done this kind of damage.

28 Jun, 2016


Hilarious but could have been nastier. I'll never look at them in the same way again. They're still darn good roasted!

28 Jun, 2016


Probably be improved by buttering up lol...
Hope you arm heals quickly.
My parsnips never even germinated let alone attacked me...

28 Jun, 2016


Oh dear Sam, think its one to add to Stera's blog on garden injuries. :-). Hope they heal fast. Knew there was a reason why I hate them. Hubby years ago cooked a casserole and had tried to sneak one in but I could taste it and couldn't eat it as I hate them that much.

28 Jun, 2016


Mine germinated on the third attemp Stera but my Climbing French Beans never germinated after four much rain this spring/summer and the soil has stayed cold, I suppose.

28 Jun, 2016


Paul it was a new one on me. It's the only thing I could find that added up though.

Loosestrife, apparently the chemical responsible can be found in all of the Apiaceae family, although in varying proportions. It seems to be a fairly uncommon injury though so not well documented. One resource suggests that the chemical levels within individual plants of the same type can vary. I've wondered if it was a higher level in those plants because they had run to flower. Another option is its uncommon because you typically only mess with the plants during cold weather when your unlikely to have much (if any) bare skin and even if you do it's unlikely you'll be exposed to sunlight long enough to do any damage.

Lol Resinone, glad to have entertained. Having seen photos of other people I was lucky. Very glad it was relatively mild. Lol yep they are good roasted. Mmm making me hungry now lol.

Lol stera are you buttering the parsnips or my arms, lol lol. Thanks, they're already healing up. Blistering is gone, just looks red now. I've heard lots of people say they're parsnips either didn't germinate or didn't grow, yet we've never had any problems. No idea what we're doing differently mind. Plus point if the don't germinate they can't get you lol.

Thanks Jen, healing up already thankfully. Parsnips do tend to have a strong taste, I'm not surprised hubby couldn't hide it. Shame on him trying if he knew you hated them.

28 Jun, 2016


Lol. It was shortly after we met. Don't think he realised just how much I disliked them. He has not done it since :-) glad your arms are getting better.

29 Jun, 2016


Thanks. Lol in that case I'll let him off the hook then.

29 Jun, 2016

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