How to Identify Poison Hemlock as the Invasive Species Spreads

Let's say you go on a late-summer stroll and come across some familiar-looking flowers. They have long, thin stems with tiny white flowers and grow in groups. These flowers may be Queen Annes lacea, a Queen Annes flowering plant that you might have seen in floral arrangements or made crowns from as a child. Advertisement They could also be poisoned hemlock and you should not take that chance. Let's examine the differences between Queen Annes Lace and poison hemlockan invading species that are currently spreading across the country. What is poison hemlock? According to the Michigan State University Extension, poison hemlock isn't a native American species. However, it has been growing in the United States since its introduction from Europe in 1800s. The fact that the plant is an invasive species, toxic to humans, animals, and pets, makes ornamental uses for it difficult. The problem is that poison hemlock, like other members in the carrot family, sprouts white umbrel flowergroups of small flowers that grow from several short stalks and resemble an umbrella. The poison hemlock is the most similar to Queen Anne's lace, which is also very common, out of all its relatives. How to distinguish Queen Annes lace from poison hemlock Apart from being similar, Queen Annes Lace and poison hemlock are biennials. They produce leaves their first year, then white flowers their second year and thousands of seeds the third. Then they die. Let's now look at the differences. This is courtesy of the Michigan State University Extension. Flowering season Poison hemlock: June through August Queen Annes Lace: July through September Stems Poison hemlock is hollow stems that are green and have purple spots. Hollow stems with purple Queen Annes Lace: Solid green stems Leaves Poison hemlock: Hairless leaves : Queen Annes Lace: Hairless Queen Annes Lace: Fine hairs on Leaves Scent Poison hemlock has an unpleasant odor when crushed When Queen Annes Lace is crushed, it produces an unpleasant odor: Roots smell like carrots Height Poison hemlock is 6-10 feet tall at maturity Queen Annes Lace: 6-10 feet at maturity How poison hemlock can make your sick The Michigan State University Extension states that every part of the poison-hemlock plant can be toxic to animals and humans. It is best to avoid it and teach your children not to. The sap of poison hemlock also contains a phototoxic substance that you don't want to get on your skin. It can cause hyper-sensitivity to ultraviolet light, resulting in blisters. It is not poison ivy, so it's safe to avoid lightly brushing against the leaves. The poison hemlock plants have no sap, and the only place where it can be found is inside the stem. It is best to not touch it.


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