Watch yourself along the trails at Devil’s Lake State Park. Open areas, especially near Steinke Basin, may be infested by wild parsnip!
If you’ve been anywhere near local media recently, you’ve heard the warnings about wild parsnip in our area. If you touch the tall weed with the yellow flowers, you can suffer one of the worst rashes/burns you can imagine. I know. I’ve been there!
Wild parsnip can cause phytophotodermatitis, which means you’ll suffer a sort of chemical burn that combines with the sunlight to cause you a world of suffering. The burn can come from touching the leaves, stems and fruits of wild parsnip. Once exposed, your skin will begin to itch and redden in 24 to 48 hours. In many cases, blisters will appear soon afterward. These blisters can ooze and get quite gross! In time, the affected area can turn dark brown to almost black and not really heal for up to two years. It’s nasty!
Right now at Devil’s Lake the worst hiking trail infestation seems to be right along the open areas of the Steinke Basin loop. The tall plants with the yellow flowers are pretty obvious, however, smaller plants that have been mowed but have begun to regrow can go unnoticed along the edges of the trails as well. We’d recommend not wearing sandals or other “open” shoes on Steinke Basin. Trading in your shorts for long pants would be a good plan to if you want to be extra cautious. Of course, stay on the trail!
You’ll also find areas of wild parsnip along county road DL & Highway 113 through the park, so be careful if you pull over along the roadsides.
Be careful out there!