Identify Poison Hemlock

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 

HABITAT

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

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The stems are rounded and hollow with no hairs and purple spots or blotches that become more obvious as the plant matures. The leaves are feather like and grow in opposite pairs with a terminal leaf. The leaves are very similar to Cow Parsley. 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. 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.

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