There’s a fine line between a plant causing a blood infection and a plant making a healthy snack, and Kellie Nightlinger knows the difference.
As she walked on a North Douglas beach in early June, she pointed out a large, leafy plant near the beach. This plant, called cow parsnip, sprouts small fibers on sunny days that can cause serious problems if they come in contact with human skin.
These fibers make a person’s skin photosensitive to light, Nightlinger explained, often resulting in sunburn or a rash that looks like a birthmark. For some people, it can lead to open sores which can in turn lead to skin or blood infections.
“But earlier in the spring when it first comes up, it’s edible,” Nightlinger said, “so I like to steam it or sautée it, maybe with coconut oil.”