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Wild and dangerous: New invasives settling down on Island

COURTESY PHOTO Wild parsnips flourishing along Ram Island Road.

Wild parsnips flourishing along Ram Island Road.

Some really vicious visitors have come to the Island and put down roots.


Greg Toner, of Gardiner’s Bay Drive, recently noticed what he thought was wild parsnip, also called poison parsnip, growing along Ram Island Road on the Coecles Harbor side.

In a letter to the Reporter and town officials, Mr. Toner wrote, “It may be in other places on the Island, but I’ve never seen it here before … The stuff is all over Vermont roadsides. This is a truly horrible invasive.”

Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. checked it out and found that Mr. Toner’s suspicions are dead on.

The plant’s sap causes painful rashes that can produce blistering so severe that scarring can occur on humans and animals. But it doesn’t just stop at making people and pets lives miserable, but has been known to take over entire fields.

“Our guess is maybe it was delivered to us during Sandy,” Mr. Card said, adding that there was a lot of debris piled in the area of Cobbetts Lane and wetlands nearby, all blown in by the superstorm in October of 2012.

Mr. Card contacted Chairman Ed Bausman of the Conservation Advisory Committee for ideas on how to combat the wild parsnips.

As Mr. Toner said, wild parsnip is a deceptive looking plant, often mistaken for Queen Anne’s Lace, but instead of  white flowers, the parsnips sport  yellow blossoms.