This Hemlock is not the tree, but the herbaceous plant, Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum. Miz FLora says this is not a plant we run into every day. Nor do we want to. Her plant guide says it is ‘Deadly posionous.’
A reader got us these photos of the poisonous plant growing in her garden plot. This could have been a fatal ‘find’ so we are passing a warning on to our human readers. Poison Hemlock looks very much like a carrot plant. The leaves are fernish. The root is a ‘carrot-style’ taproot.
In fact, our reader assumed this was a reseeded carrot from the last garden plot user, or a wild carrot, and even got as far as picking it to make pesto before someone suggested she check the identification. The verdict from the extension service and Virginia Tech was Poison Hemlock. They told her to put all parts of the plant in the trash, not to even compost it, since the toxins remain in the dried leaves and other plant parts. Wow.
Take a good look at this leaf, and steer clear! Note: this is so dangerous, we’re not even attempting to list all the identifying features. Please, do NOT rely on a bunch of squirrels, not matter how much you like us. Look plants up yourself with a reliable guide, or if you are not sure what a plant is, please get an identification from a reliable source. Here’s the link to our Virginia Cooperative Extension, with listings of local offices. I’m sure you have one in your state as well. Use their resources!
We’re very glad our reader didn’t get sick, or worse, and want to pass the word that any plant might turn up anywhere.