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Cicuta maculata

Cicuta maculata L.

 

Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderApialesIncludes carrots, celery, parsley, and ivy
FamilyApiaceaeCarrot or parsley family, also includes angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, cicely, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, Queen Anne’s Lace, parsnip
GenusCicutaAn ancient Latin name of poison hemlock
SpeciesmaculataSpotted, referring to purple splotches on the stems of leaves or on petals

About plant names...

This extremely toxic perennial is native throughout North America.

Identification: Water hemlock, a member of the carrot family, is 3-6' (91-182 cm) in height. Stems are spotted or striped with purple. Small white flowers about ⅛" (3.2 mm) across occur in small separated groups, resembling little parasols. Each tiny flower has five petals and five stamens. The “parasols” are arranged into umbrella-shaped flowerheads. The separated parasols are probably the most obvious identifying feature of this plant.

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

Leaf veins intersect with the insides of the serrations instead of the tips.

 

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

5/31/2010 · Mt. Lebanon St., Pepperell, MA
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.8 × 6.6 cm) ID is uncertain

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

8/1/2009 · Falmouth, ME
≈ 11 × 7" (28 × 18 cm)

Here is a comparison of some similar-appearing species:

  You are here
Cicuta maculata

Achillea millefolium

Daucus carota
Common Name

Water Hemlock

Common Yarrow

Queen Anne’s Lace
Plant 3-6' (91-182 cm) in height. Skull & Crossbones Extremely poisonous Up to 3’ tall, with leaves so finely divided as to look featherlike, with “feathers” up to 9” long Grows to 3’ in height. Plant smells like carrots.
Flowers Small white flowers about ⅛" (3.2 mm) across occur in small separated groups, resembling little parasols. Each flower has 5 petals and 5 stamens. The “parasols” are arranged into umbrella-shaped flowerheads. Densely packed clusters of tiny white flowers, flat-topped or umbrella-shaped. (Cultivars may be yellow, red, or many other colors.) Flowers have 4-6 petals; each petal has three lobes. Pale pink before opening. When open, forms an umbrella-shaped flower cluster up to 3” across, composed of tiny 5-petaled flowers.
Leaves     Compound leaves are deeply divided and subdivided.
Stem Stems are spotted or striped with purple.   Fine hairs on stems and leaves.
Range/ Zones

Habitats   Meadows, fields, nearly anywhere there is full or partial sun  
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence   Common Common

 

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones The spotted water hemlock is North America’s most toxic plant. All parts of this plant are poisonous to people, as well as to livestock. When swallowed, it produces death from violent and painful convulsions. Even very small quantities can cause death or permanent neurological damage.[1]

Online References:

Cicuta maculata on Missouriplants.com

Cicuta maculata on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Cicuta maculata on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Cicuta maculata at Illinois Wildflowers

Cicuta maculata on Wikipedia

Cicuta maculata on Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses

Cicuta maculata on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Cicuta maculata at the University of Florida IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

Cicuta maculata from the Jepson Manual

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

8/1/2009 · Falmouth, ME
≈ 13 × 9" (33 × 22 cm)

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

6/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 3" (12 × 8.4 cm) ID is uncertain

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

5/27/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm) ID is uncertain

1From the Wikipedia article

Cicuta maculata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

5/27/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm) ID is uncertain

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

5/31/2010 · Mt. Lebanon St., Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm) ID is uncertain

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

6/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 20 × 13" (50 × 33 cm) ID is uncertain

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Parsley)

9/20/2014 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Range:

About this map...