Water Hemlock? S.E. Michigan, USA

MarcPerr(5)August 22, 2014

This is by the creek. Its leaves do not look like poison hemlock to me, and certainly not Sambucus. Is it water hemlock?

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Photo 2

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:07AM
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Photo 3

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:08AM
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I couldn't be sure which one of the possibilities of species, but it sure looks like one of the water hemlocks.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:34AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

That is the spotted water hemlock, Cicuta maculata.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:47AM
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Researching Cicuta maculata on the web has led to a lot of confusion. One site suggests that it is a synonym for Cicuta douglasii, but that seems to be incorrect information.

How to tell the difference between the two? I've also found hemlock with parsley-like leaves referred to as spotted water hemlock. And that leads to another question: Why is it called "spotted"?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 6:51AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

With few exceptions, most of what has been identified as C. douglasii is not genetically distinct from C. maculata. If you are interested in the work done on this


It is called spotted water hemlock (maculata means spotted) because the stems sometimes have purple spots. The introduced poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) also has purple spotted stems and more finely divided leaves. There is a plant called hemlock parsley (Conioselinum chinense) that grows in fens that is superficially similiar. The bulblet-bearing water hemlock (Cicuta bulbifera) is a much more delicate plant compared to the rest of these.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:30AM
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lycopus, that is great information and very much appreciated. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:17AM
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I guess someone should mention that any part of water hemlock can kill you dead. It's especially toxic to grazing livestock and may be the most poisonous plant in the U.S. It ranges south into Florida but not as far south as where I live in Homestead.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:09PM
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