Severe burn from wild parsnip lands Ottawa man in hospital

*Warning this story contains graphic contents*

An Ottawa man is recovering after suffering serious burn injuries from a wild parsnip plant, with the impacts of his wounds expected to last years.

“You don’t want this, this will affect your life,” that is the warning from Jayson Delorme, after a grueling few weeks.

 Delorme is recovering at home after weeks in hospital. He was burned by a wild parsnip plant while playing paintball in Ottawa’s west end.

“Blisters the size of golf balls, I couldn’t walk,” he said. “Burning blisters hundreds of them.”

Delorme suffered first and second degree burns, within days it covered 85 per cent of his body.

“This is no joke, I’ve cried many times I still do, I cried the most when it was reaching my neck,” he said.

“It was really tough just seeing him in so much pain and seeing him without the bandages,” said his daughter, Chandra Delorme.

He’ll be dealing with the impact of his injuries for years. Delorme said he isn’t allowed in the sun and has to wear special clothing from now on.

Like many, Delorme didn’t know what wild parsnip was or what it looked like.

Here are the plant’s characteristics:

  • It stands between 0.5-1.5 metres tall
  • It has a slender tall green stem with yellow flowers at the top
  • The plant is most dangerous when in full bloom
  • The sap on the skin is what can cause injuries

“Know the areas where it grows, ditches, nature trails, even teach your kids to be aware of not going to pick wild flowers because they could be picking the heads of one of these plants,” said Chris Paquette, program manager with the City of Ottawa’s Public Works.

The city says it has treated several areas in the city where parsnip has been an issue. Signs also warn residents of areas where parsnip has been identified, but not yet removed.

Diana Thibodeau spotted wild parsnip in her back yard weeks ago in Gloucester and was able to safely remove it.

“I am just so grateful for my curiosity and my love of plants, because when I saw a new one it’s kind of, ‘Oh, I’m curious what have I got growing on my property now?' If I had not done that, I would’ve had no idea that’s what was going on on my property and probably would’ve gotten burned,” said Thibodeau.

And so while education and awareness are the keys to staying safe, Delorme is sharing his story to help others.

“I’m here to show you the suffering I went through, I don’t want anyone to do it, it ain’t fun,” he said.

Delorme’s daughter has started a GoFund me page to help support him in his recovery. He has been off work for weeks now and won’t be able to return for quite some time.