May 092014

We don’t have many dangerous plants in this area. No poison oak, for which I am particularly grateful, and no poison ivy. Some folks disparage the stinging nettle but, in reality, it is a beneficial, nutrition-packed vegetable and it’s so-called sting is rather benign when compared to a case of poison oak.

We do have poison hemlock and poison hemlock is sneaky, often showing up in your veggie garden disguised as a carrot. Our family had a run in with poison hemlock a couple of years ago when our grandson ate a bite from their backyard garden and ended up in the emergency room. He’s now quite the expert at identifying poison hemlock as is his mom who recently found a plant growing in our front yard garden in amongst some over-wintered carrots.

It’s pretty easy to identify from the characteristic purple mottling on the stem.

When it matures the poison hemlock can be mistaken for Queen Anne Lace, a common roadside plant.

The chart at the bottom of this article provides a good comparison between Queen Anne Lace and poison hemlock.

All parts of the poison hemlock plant can be poisonous so you should wear gloves when handling it. Best to dig it, bag it and put it in the garbage.

We have lots of wonderful, wild foods available for free on the island. Poison hemlock ain’t one of them.

This video linked below also has excellent identification tips for the fall version of poison hemlock.


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