Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
This weed is native to various regions of Europe, West Asia and North Africa. It was brought to the United States as an ornamental plant in the 1800's and is now found, with exception, throughout the U.S. It is abundantly found along the west coasts of both the U.S and Canada.
Conium maculatum is from the Umbelliferae family, which includes parsley and carrots. It is often confused with the weed Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota), of the Apiaceae family.
Unlike parsley, carrots and Queen Anne's Lace (which is an edible wild carrot) this hemlock is poisonous as it's name states.
In it's 1st year:
Weed forms a lacy, feathery, fern-like rosette of leaves in early spring. Leaves are shiny green and triangular and grow anywhere from 1 to 16 inches.
In late spring white flower umbels begin to show, whereas Queen Ann's Lace flowers appear late summer. An umbel is a flat-topped, rounded flower cluster, composed of small flowerets growing off small individual stalks which are all attached to one large stalk - like an umbrella.
In it's 2nd year:
Stalks grow in height anywhere from 3-8 feet, sometimes higher, and 1/2-1 inch thick. Stalks are smooth, hollow, upright and branched with ridges that usually have purple blotches.
Queen Anne's Lace grows up to 3 feet tall, has hairy stems with toothed leaves that alternate.
All parts of this weed are extremely poisonous, especially the white, fleshy roots and light brown seeds. The poison is a clear liquid alkaloid, coniine, which creates the musky, rotten egg odor when plant is crushed.
Any animal that ingests this weed dies within a few hours. Symptoms include heavy salivation, burning sensation in mouth, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. With irritation to mucous membranes, eventually one will show various neurological signs from which the ultimate death results from asphyxia. One can also be burned by touching weed.
Poison hemlock reproduces solely by seed and is very invasive. It grows easily and prefers fertile, moist soils but can also grow in gravelly to loamy soils. It is found in many diverse settings such as grazing areas to waste and woody areas.
If removing manually it is important to wear protective clothing. This includes gloves and long sleeves.
Don't get juices from weed in cuts, mouth or eyes.
Different options for removing manually include:
If attempting to use a pre-emergent herbicide consider where the weed is growing. Because it prefers moist habitats, preemergents may be ineffective. Post-emergent herbicides, such as glyphosates, are the best options for chemical use. Always dispose of weed -
do not put it in compost.
Don't burn this weed! This would release toxins in the air.
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