Vermont woman reveals horrific wild parsnip burns in warning about dangerous plant


(FOX News) -- A Vermont woman who received the equivalent of second-degree chemical burns to her legs after falling into a wild parsnip plant is warning others about the dangers of the seemingly harmless herbage.

Around the first of July, Charlotte Murphy, of Essex, Vermont, was traveling to the southern part of the state for her internship with a local artist. When she stopped on the side of the road, she lost her footing and fell into the plant, breaking it, causing the sap from the wild parsnip plant to come in contact with her bare legs.

Unfazed, Murphy continued to go about her day, which included spending time in the hot sun. Little did she know, this would only make her condition worse. Two days later, Murphy noticed small, red bumps begin to appear in the same area where the plant came into contact with her skin. But with no itch or pain, the 21-year-old Elon University student "didn't think anything of it," she told Fox News on Wednesday. Murphy said she was well aware of the dangers of the wild parsnip plant, or, as Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine calls it: "the hobo brother of the cultivated parsnip."

When the chemicals from a wild parsnip plant are absorbed into skin, it can make that person more sensitive to ultraviolet light from the sun. The chemicals - more formally known as furocoumarins - "bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes," which "destroys cells and skin tissue, though the reaction takes time to produce visible damage," according to the magazine.

"I had a little of it [wild parsnip sap] on my hand two years ago, and it went away - so I thought this would go away, too," she said. But Murphy's hopefulness disappeared when "the redness increased and the itch began" just days later, Murphy detailed in a Facebook post. As of Wednesday morning, the post had more than 50,000 shares and nearly 10,000 reactions.

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