Out-of-control weed plagues Minnesota

If Yakov Smirnoff were here instead of Branson, Missouri, he'd say it: "In Soviet Russia, wild parsnip eats you." This isn't Russia, Danny Noonan, but it's not a habitat that naturally controls the weed, either. Which means the invasive plant gets out of control, and its toxic secretions can scar your skin. It chews up human flesh like a less musical Audrey II. Just click on the links below to see photos.

Chemicals the plant produces, possibly as a defense mechanism, destroy cells and skin tissue. But don't take my word for it. Take the word of Kerry Saxton from Wright County, who has been working to eradicate the stuff for three years. He was quoted in the Strib saying this:

On a tour this summer to get a firsthand look at the plant, Saxton rubbed a pin-head-size drop of the sap on his arm to see what he was dealing with.

"I wanted to see how potent it was," said Saxon, one of several county workers who have been burned by wild parsnip. "I've still got the scar. It's like a second-degree burn."

The Strib's story didn't come with pictures, so we tracked down images of the plant -- and the huge, pus-filled blisters it can create. A milder case here.

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