En español: Cicuta (Poison-hemlock) folleto informativo (información sobre identificación y control) (pdf 1.62 Mb)
Poison-hemlock is acutely toxic to people and animals. In western Washington, it is common on roadsides, in open fields, and in natural areas. Unrelated to the native evergreen hemlock tree, poison-hemlock can be deadly; it has gained notoriety through its use in the state execution of Socrates.
Poison-hemlock can be confused with wild carrot (Daucus carota, or Queen Anne's Lace), as with many other members of the parsley family that resemble it. It has hairless hollow stalks with purple blotches. It can get quite tall, sometimes up to 8 feet or higher. It produces many umbrella-shaped flower clusters in an open and branching inflorescense. In contrast, wild carrot has one dense flower cluster on a narrow, hairy stem, usually with one purple flower in the center of the flower cluster, and is usually 3 feet tall or less. Poison-hemlock starts growing in the spring time, producing flowers in late spring, while wild carrot produces flowers later in the summer.
Legal status in King County, WashingtonNoxious weed lists and laws.
The King County Noxious Weed Control Board encourages property owners to remove poison-hemlock where possible and to avoid introducing it to new landscapes.
- Poison-hemlock Weed Alert (2.3 Mb, Acrobat file)
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board (external link)
- Clark County, Washington Fact Sheet
- Cornell University Poison Plants Database (scroll down)
- Colorado State University Extension
- TNC Weeds Element Stewardship Abstract
What to do if you find this plant in King County, Washington
Because poison-hemlock is so widespread, property owners in King County are not required to control it and we are not generally tracking infestations. We can provide advice on how to control poison-hemlock, but there is no legal requirement to do so in this county.
If you notice poison-hemlock on public property where people are growing or collecting food, please notify the property manager or agency in charge. This is especially important in p-patch or community gardens where new gardeners or newcomers to our area may be unfamiliar with this plant. In public parks or on trails, you can contact the local parks department and encourage them to remove the plants where they are most accessible to people who might be harvesting wild plants for food. If you are unsure about who to contact, we can help (email us).