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Local family warns against dangers of wild parsnip

(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 6, 2016 at 6:15 PM CDT
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) -- From the Beltline to your backyard, wild parsnip is popping up all over southern Wisconsin.

"It burns your skin. It hurts, it really hurts," Caleb Witkiewicz said.

Caleb is 8-years-old, but he was just 6-years-old when he had his run in with the poisonous plant.

"I had to sleep on my back," Caleb continued.

"I usually sleep on my belly, [but] with all the blisters I couldn't sleep on it because they'd just pop, and it really hurt."

Caleb's mom, Emily Witkiewicz, said it all started two summer's ago when she was watching Caleb play in the yard.

"[Within] a couple minutes his arms and his whole chest started breaking out in blisters," she said.

"I had no idea what he had gotten into."

After seeing the blisters and burns, Emily took Caleb to the hospital, but even doctors were unfamiliar with the effects of the wild weed.

"They had no idea what it was," Emily said.

"I started taking pictures of him and sending them to my husband, and then my husband's co-worker said that's wild parsnip, a poisonous weed," she continued.

According to experts the plant grows in sunny open areas and it's the sap inside the plant that causes skin to blister. They advise people to simply stay away.

As for the Witkiewicz family, Caleb still has scars from the blisters, but he is healing. The family is now focused on minimizing the spread of parsnip in their yard by detecting it early, and preventing the plant from producing seeds.

Copyright 2016: WMTV