As homeowners, we’re no stranger to weeds. We work hard to suppress them for beautiful landscaping with high-quality organic mulch and probably don’t think much about what we’re removing. Even when driving or taking a walk in Missouri, you may not give that tall plant with bundles of small white flowers growing along the fence line much thought.
It could be poison hemlock, a non-native invasive weed.
Poison Hemlock Is Toxic To Humans And Pets
According to the USDA, “All parts of poison hemlock (leaves, stem, fruit, and root) are poisonous. Leaves are especially poisonous in the spring until the time that the plant flowers.” If you suspect poison hemlock on your property, keep pets and children away from it to prevent contact. Symptoms of hemlock poisoning in humans include:
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Rapid and then decreased heart rate
- Loss of speech
If these symptoms are present and you suspect contact with poison hemlock, seek immediate medical attention.
Poison Hemlock Is Often Confused With Queen Anne’s Lace
Poison hemlock is often confused with another plant, Queen Anne’s Lace (also known as wild carrot). Unlike poison hemlock, Queen Anne’s Lace is safe to use in decorative arrangements.
The correct identification of a plant is a serious matter to prevent injury. Here are the key differences between these two plants:
Both the stems of these two plants are hollow, but the poison hemlock has a smooth stem with small purple spots all over it. Queen Anne’s Lace doesn’t have these spots and is hairy. At maturity, poison hemlock is 6-10 feet tall, compared to the 1-2 feet of Queen Anne’s Lace.
In addition, the flower clusters of Queen Anne’s Lace are flat-topped and will have a single purple/red flower in the middle. It will also have long, three-pronged bracts or “tutu” (the part of the plant that’s found above the leaves but below the flower). Poison hemlock flower clusters are erect, rounded, and don’t have these long bract “tutus.”
Wear Protective Clothing When Doing Yardwork And Removing Poison Hemlock
At Hansen’s Tree Service, we care about your safety during gardening. When removing weeds, it’s essential to do so with caution and wear protective clothing to prevent injury, being sure to wash hands and clothing afterward thoroughly. This is especially important when removing poison hemlock, as the sap can enter through cuts or other openings.
Herbicides can control poison hemlock but must be applied early in the season before producing seeds. Carefully follow all application instructions.
Maintaining your lawn with the right products and care is essential in preventing excess weed growth. Apply mulch, fertilize with organic compost, and avoid overwatering. If you are unsure how much compost or mulch you need, the experts at Hansen’s Tree Service are more than happy to help.