Despite seasonal allergies, a slightly sore back, and the need to report to work this afternoon, I got out on my bike for a short ride this morning. I ended up at a wetlands area I frequent because there’s a nice shelter house, yet it’s at a spur off the main trail, so few people seem to stop there.
Thanks to a recent Facebook post from a friend, I realized this morning that there’s an abundance of poison hemlock growing there, and not harmless Queen Anne’s lace as I had always thought. I used the Seek app to verify the species. Since I don’t aspire to die like Socrates, I’m glad I never touched any back when I was misidentifying it!
One clear way to tell the difference between the two plants is the stem. Poison hemlock has smooth stems with purple spots. Queen Anne’s lace has hairy stems with no purple. I found a helpful article that provides more information.
Now you know. If you see this plant, make like anyone who is not Socrates and avoid it.
2 thoughts on “On Today’s Bike Ride: Beware the Poison Hemlock”
I have never heard of this plant so I typed it into Google. Wow glad I have never seen one.
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As I have done more reading, it appears the biggest danger in touching the plant comes from the chance you might absorb or ingest toxins by touching your eyes or mouth without having thoroughly washed your hands first. I came back to edit this comment because as I have talked to a friend who is knowledgeable and done more research, I feel I didn’t emphasize enough not to touch it with bare skin. Apparently all parts are toxic and you can have a skin reaction. Also, never burn it, because inhaling the smoke can be toxic, too.