Poison hemlock or wild carrot?


Driving around Miami Valley highways it’s easy to spot a plant that appears to be wild carrot; however, not all of these plants that look identical to wild carrot are actually wild carrot.

Poison hemlock is sometimes mistaken for wild carrot; however, it’s quite toxic in comparison and is one of the most toxic weeds in North America.

Both plants are members of the carrot family, which contain many edible plants including carrots, parsnips and celery as well as herbs such as cilantro, chervil, anise, parsley, fennel and dill.

Both are biennials, which means they grow vegetatively the first year and flower and go to seed the second. Those in flower now will produce seeds to keep the species alive for years to come.

Both plants are usually found in fields, pastures, vegetable crops, roadsides and other disturbed areas of land. Right now, they are both in full bloom with white flowers on top of plans that are around 4 feet tall.

At this time of the year, you can see both of these plants along the highway very easily, as they are in full bloom.

Wild carrot is not toxic; poison hemlock is. It contains highly toxic piperidine alkaloid compounds that can cause respiratory failure and death when ingested by mammals.

Animals tend to stay away from poison hemlock unless other forage is not available. It’s still a good idea to check for it.

It’s important for you to be able to distinguish between these two plants, especially if you are trying to eradicate them. Both have hollow bluish-green stems, and the plants almost look identical. However, poison hemlock has distinguishing purple blotches up and down the stem. It’s easy to tell them apart.

Control can be achieved by tilling or mowing. Now is the time to mow it down before it goes to seed. If you are going to use a weedeater to cut it down, make sure none of the juices from the plant get on your skin.

Poison hemlock can also be controlled by both selective and nonselective (kills everything) herbicides.

One of the alkaloids in poison hemlock, coniine, is a neurotoxin and can be absorbed through the skin, therefore wear long pants and long sleeves as well as glove if removing these plants.

You might think that this plant won’t bother the gardener because of where it’s normally located. It’s true as this is not usually considered a landscape and garden problem. However, I am seeing more and more of it in home gardens. I now have it creeping into my garden and perennial beds and have been diligently working to eliminate it.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Free AOL Desktop is being discontinued

If you’re still using the AOL Desktop program, keep in mind that the company is slowly discontinuing the free service. Last April, it started pushing random waves of users to upgrade to AOL Desktop Gold ($4.99 per month after a 30-day trial) or to instead use their free AOL.com services. At some point, they will stop email support on the older...
Diabetes and how it affects feet
Diabetes and how it affects feet

If you have diabetes, you have probably noticed that it affects your health in many ways. But it can be easy to overlook one spot that often escapes close attention: your feet. Understand the problem Just a small foot sore can lead to a diabetic ulcer and even amputation if not treated properly and in a timely manner. So if you have diabetes, every...
A few reasons to tour this famous presidential home before summer ends
A few reasons to tour this famous presidential home before summer ends

One of the best ways to absorb history is to visit a historic home. A few weeks ago my husband and I headed for Marion, Ohio, for what turned out to be a fascinating visit to The Harding Home Presidential Site, the residence of Warren G. and Florence Harding. Thanks to a terrific guide — the museum’s assistant director Shannon Morris &mdash...
D.L. Stewart: Some readers still try to mind their manners

The letter in The Washington Post this week seemed charmingly quaint, a throwback to an era in which men stood up and doffed their hats anytime a woman wearing long white gloves entered the room. “DEAR MISS MANNERS,” the letter began, “I find myself stunned at most people’s table manners. For example: breaking bread/rolls and...
Parenting with Dr. Ramey: A few clues to the secret lives of teens

Your teen has a secret life — feeling, thinking and acting in ways unknown to most parents. Therapy offers young adults the confidentiality and safety to reveal themselves in ways that they cannot do with others. Here is a glimpse at your teen’s private world. 1. High level of insecurity. Many teens feel uncomfortable and uncertain about...
More Stories