Scary Plants?

Wild Parsnip - Devil's Lake State Park

Wild parsnip, nettles, poison ivy, oak & sumac can all be found in Devil’s Lake State Park.  Your best defence is to simply stay on the trails. Especially, if you can’t easily ID these plant species.

At Devil’s Lake State Park wild parsnip & poison ivy are often found growing alongside the trails. Wild Parsnip if often found in open sunny areas, especially out on the Steinke Basin trail area.  Poison ivy is most often found along wooded trails throughout the park.

Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip is prevalent in the open areas along the Steinke Basin Trail

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!

Poison Ivy along the Steinke Basin Trail. Devil's lake SP.

Poison Ivy along the Steinke Basin Trail. Devil’s lake SP.

Poison Ivy, which has the awesome scientific of “Toxicodendron radicans”, is feared by hikers due to the irritating red rash it can cause if your skin comes in contact with the leaves. For what it’s worth, according to, only about 85% of us are actually allergic to poison ivy.. so maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can roll around “nekkid” in the stuff.. But is it worth the risk to find out?

Because poison ivy causes an allergic reaction, call your doctor if you have

  • Severe blistering, swelling, and itching
  • Symptoms in sensitive areas such as the eyes, lips, throat, or genitals
  • A rash over large areas of your body
  • A rash lasting longer than a week to 10 days
  • Blisters that become infected with pus
  • Get immediate medical help for any difficulty breathing or severe coughing after exposure to poison ivy!

For most of us the itching, rash and swelling will slowly go away in a couple of weeks. If you get into it, wash your skin in warm, soapy water as soon as possible. Wash your clothing. Don’t scratch and give calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream a try to sooth the itching. You may even want to try taking an antihistamine pill. If these ideas are not helping, call your doctor.

Extra: Can you ID Poison Ivy?

So, have fun out on the trails but in the summer time, keep an eye out for wild parsnip and poison ivy. It’s often right where you want to be!