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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Highly poisonous hemlock found near South Hill bluff trails

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has white flowers in a delicate umbel (flat-toped flower stalk) and lacy fern-like leaves. (WSU Extension)
Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has white flowers in a delicate umbel (flat-toped flower stalk) and lacy fern-like leaves. (WSU Extension)

TRAILS -- "Recently I was dismayed, but not surprised, to find poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) growing beside Hangman Creek below the High Drive Bluff," said Diana Roberts, WSU area extension agronomist for the Spokane/Lincoln County Extension

Why is this significant?

"Poison hemlock is the most poisonous plant in the Western Hemisphere," she said.

Roberts offers these insights and tips:

  • Poison hemlock is a plant native to the Pacific Northwest, but it is increasing in population locally. At this point there are a few plants in Hangman Creek below the Bluff, but many more upstream and it is likely to increase
  • It grows in moist locations, often close to Water/Cow Parsnip which looks somewhat similar (see photos)
  • Parsnip is edible but water hemlock is extremely poisonous. Confusion between the 2 species can be fatal to people seeking parsnip
  • Hemlock does not have to be ingested to cause damage. Pulling out the plants without wearing long sleeves and gloves causes an itchy rash (like poison ivy). However, allowing the plant to come into contact with mucous membranes can be fatal, i.e. don't let your dog run through this stuff - especially with mouth open and tongue lolling.
  • Keep yourselves and your pets out of it! 


 




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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