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Conium maculatum
Conium.jpg
Conium maculatum in California
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Conium
Species:
C. maculatum
Binomial name
Conium maculatum
L., 1753
Synonyms[1]
A 19th-century illustration of C. maculatum

Conium maculatum, the hemlock or poison hemlock, is a highly poisonous biennial herbaceous flowering plant in the carrot family Apiaceae

Conium maculatum, the hemlock or poison hemlock, is a highly poisonous biennial herbaceous flowering plant in the carrot family Apiaceae, native to Europe and North Africa. A hardy plant capable of living in a variety of environments, hemlock is widely naturalized in locations outside its native range, such as parts of North and South America, Australia and West Asia, to which it has been introduced.

Description

Hemlock can grow to a height of 1.5 to 3 meters.

Conium maculatum is a herbaceous biennial flowering plant that grows to 1.5–2.5 m (5–8 ft) tall, with a smooth, green, hollow stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem. All parts of the plant are hairless (glabrous); the leaves are two- to four-pinnate, finely divided and lacy, overall triangular in shape, up to 50 cm (20 in) long and 40 cm (16 in) broad.[2] Hemlock's flower is small and white; they are loosely clustered and each flower has five petals.[3] The plant looks like the wild carrot plant (Daucus carota). One can distinguish the two from each other by hemlock's smooth texture, mid-green, quite vivid, color and typical height of large clumps being least 1.5 metres, twice the maximum of wild carrot. Also, wild carrot has hairy stems that lack the purple blotches;[4] hemlock's height is often reached instead by similar giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in the same family. It is less readily confused with harmless cow parsley, with very pale, weaker stems and tiny red-and-green leaves next to many of its flower stems which colonises bright areas (Anthriscus sylvestris).

It has become endemic in Asia, North America, Australia and New Zealand.[5][6][7] The plant is often found in poorly drained soil, particularly near streams, ditches and other watery surfaces. It also appears on roadsides, edges of cultivated fields and waste areas[5] and is considered an invasive species in 12 U.S. states.[8]

Conium maculatum grows in quite damp soil,[9] but also on drier rough grassland, roadsides and disturbed ground. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some lepidoptera, including silver-ground carpet moths and particularly the poison hemlock moth (Agonopterix alstroemeriana). The

Conium maculatum is a herbaceous biennial flowering plant that grows to 1.5–2.5 m (5–8 ft) tall, with a smooth, green, hollow stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem. All parts of the plant are hairless (glabrous); the leaves are two- to four-pinnate, finely divided and lacy, overall triangular in shape, up to 50 cm (20 in) long and 40 cm (16 in) broad.[2] Hemlock's flower is small and white; they are loosely clustered and each flower has five petals.[3] The plant looks like the wild carrot plant (Daucus carota). One can distinguish the two from each other by hemlock's smooth texture, mid-green, quite vivid, color and typical height of large clumps being least 1.5 metres, twice the maximum of wild carrot. Also, wild carrot has hairy stems that lack the purple blotches;[4] hemlock's height is often reached instead by similar giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in the same family. It is less readily confused with harmless cow parsley, with very pale, weaker stems and tiny red-and-green leaves next to many of its flower stems which colonises bright areas (Anthriscus sylvestris).

It has become endemic in Asia, North America, Australia and New Zealand.[5][6][7] The plant is often found in poorly drained soil, particularly near streams, ditches and other watery surfaces. It also appears on roadsides, edges of cultivated fields and waste areas[5] and is considered an invasive species in 12 U.S. states.[8]

Conium maculatum grows in quite damp soil,[9] but also on drier rough grassland, roadsides and disturbed ground. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some lepidoptera, including silver-ground carpet moths and particularly the poison hemlock moth (Agonopterix alstroemeriana). The latter has been widely used as a biological control agent for the plant.[10] Poison hemlock flourishes in the spring, when most undergrowth in other families is not in flower and may not be in leaf. All plant parts are poisonous, but cut and fully dried, the poison is reduced.

Distribution