According to the Star Tribune, a poisonous hemlock is spreading throughout southeastern Minnesota.
The weed can grow 8 feet tall and has white clusters of flowers. It's now in bloom in parts of the state and sometimes is mistaken for wild carrot or toxic water hemlock. But poison hemlock can be differentiated from those two species because it has fern-like leaves and purple blotches on the stems. All parts of the weed — leaves, stem, flowers and roots — are poisonous.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports that the weed is highly poisonous to people and pets. Use gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe boots if working in an infestation. Poison hemlock can grow in dense patches and displaces native vegetation.
Prevention and management
Effective management must prevent seed production and exhaust the seedbank.
- Mow before seed set to prevent movement of seed to new locations. Clean equipment, clothing, and shoes after moving through an infestation.
- Herbicide applications that target rosettes in the early spring and fall can be very effective. Spring treatments of rosettes should be timed well in advance of flowering and follow-up treatments may be necessary for several years to exhaust the seedbank. If using herbicide treatments, check with your local University of Minnesota Extension Agent, co-op, or certified landscape care expert for assistance and recommendations. There are several businesses throughout the state with certified herbicide applicators that can be hired to perform chemical applications.
Poison hemlock is very toxic to humans and livestock. Symptoms of toxicity include: nervous trembling, salivation, pupil dilation, rapid, weak pulse, and eventually leading to coma or death. If you suspect toxicity from poison
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