How to Spot Poison Hemlock

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Poison Hemlock, also known as Hemlock or Spotted Hemlock, is a very common poisonous plant in North America. Since this plant is so common, it is important that you are able to spot Poison Hemlock so you can avoid it at all costs. Here's what you should look for.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Know the habitat of Poison Hemlock that's found throughout North America. It is often seen along fences, roadsides and ditches and in fields or near waste areas. It likes to grow in places where there is moist ground.

  2. 2

    Observe the height of Poison Hemlock. The plants are fairly tall, growing between 1.5 and 2.5 meters in height. The Poison Hemlock plant also tends to stand erect.

  3. 3

    Look at the stems of the Poison Hemlock plant. The stems are smooth with no hairs or fuzz, and they are green in color. They are also hollow and branching. In addition, they have purple spots on them, which are found most commonly near the bottoms of the stems.

  4. 4

    Take note of the leaves of the Poison Hemlock plant. They are very well divided and coarsely toothed. They're approximately 50 cm in length and 40 cm in width. Sometimes, it is said that the leaves resemble those of a fern.

  5. 5

    Pay attention to the white clustered flowers of Poison Hemlock plants. They each have five petals and the flowers themselves are approximately 10 to 15 cm in diameter.

  6. 6

    View the root of the Poison Hemlock plant. The root is either white or yellowish in color. It is also fleshy, and it is unbranched. It is referred to as a simple tap root.

  7. 7

    Smell the Poison Hemlock plant. It has a pungent and mouse-like odor.

Tips and warnings

  • Poison Hemlock is a prolific grower and can look very dense in nature.
  • Don't confuse Poison Hemlock with Water Hemlock. Poison Hemlocks have branched roots and their leaves are not very well divided.
  • Don't confuse Poison Hemlock with Wild Carrot. Wild Carrot plants have hairs on their stems whereas Poison Hemlock stems don't.
  • Never eat or allow your pets to eat Poison Hemlock. All parts of the Poison Hemlock plant are poisonous.
  • Get medical attention right away if you or a pet has consumed Poison Hemlock. Immediate medical care is crucial to survival.

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