|Anyone who spends time outdoors at Fort McCoy is
advised to be aware of several hazardous plants.
The plants pose health and safety risks to people and should be avoided,
whenever possible, said David Beckmann, installation wildlife biologist.
Wild parsnip can grow as tall as
five feet. Oils from the plants can cause blisters when
contacting exposed skin.
(Photo by Natural Resources Branch)
The plants include the native species poison ivy and poison sumac, as
well as the invasive, exotic species wild parsnip and leafy spurge.
Detailed information about these plants is available in a brochure at
the Installation Safety Office, building 1678.
“We do annual treatments to control the wild parsnip and leafy spurge
throughout the installation,” Beckmann said.
“Both of these species also have a negative impact to native ecosystems
as well as pose a health concern to people.”
“Wild parsnip is something you see spreading more and more along the
roadsides statewide. Because poison ivy and poison sumac are native
plants and do not pose an ecological threat, we don’t do a lot of
control work on them.”
Beckmann said people who must be out in the field should wear
long-sleeved tops and pants, especially if they may be in areas with
these plants, to limit the amount of exposed skin that may come in
contact with these plants.
Poison ivy and leafy spurge typically are less than two-feet tall or
grow low to the ground.
Wild parsnip can grow as tall as five feet and poison sumac can grow up
to 20 feet tall.
These plants generate oils (urushiol) or saps that can cause blisters or
rashes when contacting exposed skin, he said.
People need to be particularly careful when doing any type of yard work
or vegetation clearing with these species.
“If you come into contact with these plants, the best thing is to remove
your clothes when you come out of the field and wash them separately in
hot soapy water; also wash exposed skin with soapy water to remove any
oil or sap,” Beckmann said.
Anyone who believes they are suffering from work- or training-related
severe exposure to these plants is advised to see the Occupational
Health Clinic (OHC) if they are federal civilian employees, the Troop
Medical Clinic (TMC) for authorized military personnel or their
For more information, call Safety at 608-388-3403 or the Wildlife
Program at 608-388-5374.
For treatment, call the OHC at 608-388-3209/2414, or the TMC at