Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), Newark, DE

Poison hemlock with fernlike, pale blue-green leaves and leaves covered in dark purple spots, solid purple at the baseView Full Resolution

This photo shows poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), a highly poisonous plant. This plant is in the Apiaceae family, making it a fairly close relative of carrots, parsely, and a variety of other plants used as food, herbs, or spices. Young plants can be mistaken for carrots, the root looks parsnip-like, and the leaves can be confused for parsley, but all parts of the plant are poisonous.

The plant is easily identified however, by its distinctive purple spots on the stem. Carrot plants lack these spots, have hairy stems, and bloom later in the summer. The more fine-texture compound leaves also differ from parsley, which has a fuller leaf. The entire plant also emits a foul odor, which hopefully would deter anyone from eating it.

This image is featured in our article on Invasive Herbs for Herbal Tea.

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Alex Zorach

RateTea Editor

Joined Sep. 1st, 2009.

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CC BY-SA 4.0

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