Isn’t it amazing what we pretend to forget every year?
“Oh, I won’t plant the tomato plants six feet apart. They’ll never grow that big.”
“I don’t need to cover the strawberries with straw. It’ll probably be a mild winter.”
“It’s too hot to wear long sleeve and pants while weed-whacking.”
It’s that last one that got me in trouble this past weekend. You see, Beekman Farm is under attack. In fact, the whole county has practically been conquered. And for the 4th year in a row, I’ve gone into battle without any armor.
One of the most troublesome invasive weed species we have in our area is the Wild Parsnip (or Pastinaca Sativa.) It was introduced to this country sometime in the 19th century, and whether it was by accident or because it produces a fairly pretty flower, if I ever find out who brought it over here I’ll go pee on their grave. (Not really. But I at least hope his grave is covered with this devil weed.) Chances are that you probably have it somewhere near you as well. It’s found in 46 states, and listed as a noxious weed in most of them.
It is a kinda pretty plant. Grows to 4-5 feet tall and produces a yellow flower that looks like what would be birthed if Queen Anne’s Lace, Dill, and Satan had a menage a trois.
Just touching the leaves or flowers won’t do you any harm. It’s what’s inside that counts. The sap. When it comes in contact with the skin, phytophotodermatitis occurs. Yes, that’s as nasty as it sounds. When the juice is exposed to ultraviolet sunlight it burns the skin, causing dark pigmentation and blisters. The blisters and rash are itchy, but not as painful as, say, poison ivy. But the after effects are much worse…at least as far as one’s vanity is concerned.
The darkened pigmentation of the skin will last for months – sometimes up to 2 years! I know this for a fact. I still have some spots from when I tangled with it last year. Because, like my annual tomato rainforest and freeze-burned strawberry plants, my first weed-whacking expedition of each year is an exercise in willful dementia. I simply refuse to remember how disfigured I get after showering myself in Wild Parnsip bits.
Let’s make a deal. If someone reminds me to cover up before weed-whacking next year, I’ll remind you to put the storm windows in before the first blizzard sneaks up on you.
Be careful out there.