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Dog walkers warned not to pick up 'poisonous parsnips' which are harmful to humans and pets

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
Fresh homegrown parsnips, freshly harvested, laying on a bed of garden soil.
The parsnips washed on to St Bees beach near Egremont, Cumbria. (Getty)

Dog walkers have been warned not to pick up toxic parsnips, which can be harmful to humans and animals after they were found on a beach in the UK.

The coastguard issued the advice after Hemlock water dropwort roots (or 'dead man's fingers') washed on to St Bees beach near Egremont, Cumbria.

The plant contains a neurotoxin named oenanthotoxin, which can induce spasmodic convulsions and lead to sudden death.

Wildlife UK says: “Hemlock Water Dropwort is the most poisonous plant in the UK and all parts of it are poisonous, it is reported that death can occur in as little as a couple of hours after ingestion.”

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The beach and cliffs in St Bees near Whitehaven, Cumbria, England, UK
St Bees beach near Egremont, Cumbria. (Getty)

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The Whitehaven Coastguard Rescue Team urged dog owners to be extra vigilant and not touch the plants.

A spokesman said: "We would urge dog owners to be extra vigilant and not to touch these items.

"We have consulted the Environment Agency who have advised that any findings of this nature would need to be reported to Copeland Borough Council.

"The plant, Hemlock Water Dropwort, more widely referred to as 'Poisonous Parsnips' or 'Dead Man's Fingers', is relatively common along parts of the UK coastline, however, the roots which look similar to a parsnip are extremely toxic to both animals and humans.

"It is possible that recent stormy weather and tidal surges may have unearthed and uprooted these plants, then they have been washed ashore.

"If you think your dog may have come into contact or ingested any 'poisonous parsnips' it is advised to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible."

Anyone who comes into contact with Hemlock water dropwort roots should contact Copeland Borough Council

In 2002, eight students in Argyll, Scotland, mistakenly ate a curry made from the roots, according to the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Four of them fell seriously ill and needed hospital treatment.