Poison Hemlock (Conium Maculatum) Identification

Poison Hemlock / Spring / Summer / Deadly

 

Poison Hemlock is one the most deadly plants found growing in the UK and if you forage for anything at all you should definitely invest time in learning how to safely identify this one.


Common names

Poison Hemlock, Hemlock, Poison Parsley


BOTANICAL NAME

Conium Maculatum


KNOWN HAZARDS

The whole plant is deadly toxic


COULD BE CONFUSED WITH

Cow parsley,

Fools Parsley 


RANGE AND DISTRIBUTION

Fairly common throughout UK and Europe, also North Africa and Iran 


Video for Poison Hemlock


HABITAT

Waste ground, damp places, hedgerows often avoiding acid soils and heavy shade


PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Stems

The stems are rounded and hollow with no hairs and purple spots or blotches that become more obvious as the plant matures.


Leaves

The leaves are feather like and grow in opposite pairs with a terminal leaf. The leaves are very similar to Cow Parsley but hemlock leaves are typically darker and more glossy.


Flowers

The flowers are umbels, meaning the flower stems are like the spokes of an umbrella with the flower clusters at the end, the flowers again are very similar to those of Cow Parsley, with a creamy centre and 5 white unevenly sized petals.


Seeds

The seeds are 2 semi circles, together they make a rounded and striated ball. This plant smells carbolic and unpleasant. 


EDIBLE USE

This plant is deadly toxic, do not eat. 


HERBAL

This plant is now not really used as medicine. It has been used as an analgesic, antispasmodic, emetic, galactofuge and sedative, it was also used to treat tumors, epilepsy and whooping cough. 


MISCELLANEOUS

Hemlock contains deadly alkaloids that affect the nerves that control the lungs, causing nerve paralysis and those who ingest Hemlock die of suffocation.


References

Some more info on the toxins

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