Do not eat this plant: hemlock looks edible but is poisonous - Noxious Weeds Blog

You can extract a young hemlock by hand or with a shovel.

Be careful this spring: hemlock (Conium maculatum strong>) is a common weed that is toxic to humans and animals. The stems of young plants resemble those of carrots and other plants of the umbellifer family, but all parts of the hemlock are poisonous when ingested, and even dead canes remain toxic for up to three years. Toxins can also be absorbed through the skin and respiratory system.

Hemlock is widely disseminated in King County, and can be found along community gardens and public roads. It also grows along roadsides, in riparian areas, ravines, fields, ditches, and vacant lots. It is favored by damp soil and the sun, but can be adapted to drier soils and shady places.

Stems of a young hemlock, resembling those of a carrot and other plants the umbelliferous family.

You can identify a hemlock by purple or reddish stains on stems and a musty odor.

The roots look like white carrots. Photo courtesy of

The stems have no hairs and are hollow.

In the first year, plants grow in low-lying forests, and can be found in all seasons. Photo courtesy of born1945 / CC BY

The second year, they are between 5 and 10 feet high and numerous small white flowers arranged in umbrella-shaped clusters and are found from April to June.

Symptoms that people experience may include dilated pupils, dizziness, tremors, decreased heart rate, central nervous system paralysis, muscle paralysis and death due to respiratory failure.

In both people and animals, rapid medical treatment can reverse the effects of hemlock poisoning.

If you find hemlock on a public property, please notify the property manager , or fill out this form and we can notify you. Hemlock is so widespread in King County that its control is not required. However, this plant should be removed whenever possible, especially in areas where people, pets and livestock have access.

Wear gloves when removing this plant. When mowing, wear a dust mask or take frequent breaks. Dispose of the plant parts in the trash, not in yard waste or fertilizer.

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