Poison Hemlock

Genus Conium
Parsley Family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae)



Poison hemlock plant with flowers

Poison Hemlock
(Conium maculatum

This is a tall plant, often growing six feet tall or more. It is a native of Europe, which has become a weed here. It grows along streamsides and ditchbanks, and can tolerate poorly drained soils.

The individual flowers are very tiny, and are borne in umbrella shaped clusters at the ends of the branches.


Poison hemlock stems showing purple spots

Stems are spotted with purple splotches. Leaves are subdivided many times, so that they appear almost fern-like.

All parts of the plant are toxic. It is believed that Socrates was forced to drink poison from this plant when he was sentenced to death.

Fern-like poison hemlock leaves