How to Identify Poison Hemlock


The most important identification feature of poison hemlock are the stems and stalks. They are hairless, hollow, and almost always have distinctive purplish-red splotching or streaking on them, especially towards the base of the plant. These markings are a sure giveaway that it is poison hemlock.


Many sources say that the stems of poison hemlock don’t always have this splotching, though I have never found poison hemlock without it. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to know more than one identification feature, especially when dealing with poisonous plants.


Poison hemlock flowers can be confusing because they resemble other white umbel shaped flowers, especially those in the Apiaceae family.

The flowers bloom in late spring and grow in rounded clusters that are called compound umbels. Each individual tiny flower has five petals.

After the flowers bloom they form small green fruits with wavy ribs that contain highly poisonous seeds that resemble anise, fennel, or caraway seeds.

many poison hemlock flowers showing the compound umbel shape<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6395 size-large” title=”Poison hemlock is a highly toxic plant that every forager should know how to identify. Here are identification tips along with differences between poison hemlock and popular edible wild plants. #foraging #wildcrafting #hemlock” src=”×582.jpg” alt=”many poison hemlock flowers showing the compound umbel shape” width=”800″ height=”582″ srcset=”×582.jpg 800w,×291.jpg 400w,×218.jpg 300w,×495.jpg 680w, 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px” />

The flowers grow on highly branched stalks that can grow up to 8-10 feet (3 meters) tall.

the top half of a tall poison hemlock plant that is in bloom<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6394 size-large” title=”Poison hemlock is a highly toxic plant that every forager should know how to identify. Here are identification tips along with differences between poison hemlock and popular edible wild plants. #foraging #wildcrafting #hemlock” src=”×853.jpg” alt=”the top half of a tall poison hemlock plant that is in bloom” width=”800″ height=”853″ srcset=”×853.jpg 800w,×400.jpg 375w,×800.jpg 750w,×300.jpg 281w,×725.jpg 680w, 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px” />


The leaves of poison hemlock look very similar to parsley, chervil, and wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace), which makes them difficult to distinguish. They are opposite and compound, hairless, lacy, and triangular in shape.

When crushed or brushed against, the leaves emit a very unpleasant musty smell, not at all carrot-like like Queen Anne’s lace.

a close up showing the leaves and flowers of poison hemlock<img class=”aligncenter wp-image-6406 size-large” title=”Poison hemlock is a highly toxic plant that every forager should know how to identify. Here are identification tips along with differences between poison hemlock and popular edible wild plants. #foraging #wildcrafting #hemlock” src=”×480.jpg” alt=”a close up showing the leaves and flowers of poison hemlock” width=”800″ height=”480″ srcset=”×480.jpg 800w,×240.jpg 400w,×180.jpg 300w,×408.jpg 680w, 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px” />

Potential Poison Hemlock Look-Alikes

The reason it’s so important to learn how to identify poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is because it is often mistaken for other plants that are edible and medicinal, most notably Queen Anne’s lace. Here I will explain the major differences between the edible plants that poison hemlock can potentially look similar to.

Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)

There are several differences here to consider. First is overall size, as Queen Anne’s lace only grows to about 2-3 feet in size. Queen Anne’s lace has hairy stems and leaves, while poison hemlock’s are smooth. Here is one easy way to remember it: “the Queen has hairy legs.” Queen Anne’s lace flowers bloom later in the summer and have a flatter shape. They typically have a single dark purple or red flower in the center. Queen Anne’s lace also has 3 pronged bracts at the base of the flowers, and the older flowers curl up into a bird’s nest shape.

two Queen Anne's lace flowers, one showing the red dot in the center, the other showing the curled up bird nest shape

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

The biggest difference that yarrow has from poison hemlock is its distinctive frilly, feather-like leaves. You can see pictures of the leaves in my post about foraging yarrow. The flowers also look a bit different, as yarrow is not in the Apiaceae family so does not have a true umbel flower. Yarrow is also a smaller plant, growing about 2-3 feet in size.

Angelica (Angelica spp.)

Angelica has similar looking flowers to poison hemlock, although even more rounded and sometimes light green in color. The leaves of angelica are much larger and are compound with dozens of leaflets. There is also a sheathing base where the leaf meets the stem. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of angelica is its pleasantly fragrant scent. One thing to be aware of is that angelica can look very similar to water hemlock (Cicuta spp.), which is another highly poisonous species that can cause death.

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum)

The flowers of cow parsnip are similar to poison hemlock, but much larger, and same goes for the leaves. It can also closely resemble water hemlock, so be absolutely certain of your identification.

Cow Parsley/Wild Chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris)

Cow parsley has pink stems that are slightly hairy and have a groove. Be aware that it can also closely resemble fool’s parsley, another poisonous plant.

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Wild parsnip has yellow flowers and the stem is grooved. Be aware that while this plant has edible roots, the leaves and stems can cause burns and blisters on the skin after touching.

Water Parsnip (Sium suave and Berula spp.)

Water parsnip grows in marshes and wet areas, and the leaves are not lacy like poison hemlock. It looks very similar to water hemlock, another deadly plant, so great care should be taken to obtain positive identification before harvesting. I recommend using the book Incredible Wild Edibles by Samual Thayer for identifying this species.

Wild Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Wild fennel has a similar overall structure to poison hemlock, but it has yellow flowers, frond like leaves, and smells strongly of fennel or anise (a licorice-like scent).

Elderflower (Sambucus spp.)

There is only one minor similarity that elderflowers might have to poison hemlock, and that is the white flowers. Elderflowers do not have the true umbel shape and are usually much larger. The plant itself is more of a large shrub and doesn’t really bear any resemblance to poison hemlock.

Three Other Similar Looking Poisonous Plants

It’s also worth mentioning that there are three other poisonous plants that are also in the Apiaceae family that look somewhat similar to poison hemlock and the other plants I listed above.

  • Water Hemlock (Cicuta spp.) – water hemlock is more deadly than poison hemlock and is almost as widespread. There are four different varieties, with spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) being the most common.
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) –  giant hogweed is literally giant, growing up to 18 feet (6 meters) in height with leaves that are 3-5 feet (1-2 meters) wide and flowers that can be 2.5 feet (almost 1 meter) in diameter. It causes horrible skin blistering, permanent scars, and blindness.
  • Fool’s Parsley (Aethusa cynapium) fool’s parsley is less poisonous than poison hemlock, but is still one that you most definitely want to avoid. It has hairless stems and long bracts that hang below the secondary flower clusters.

Apiaceae can be a tricky family to identify, especially when there are several poisonous species to worry about. Poison hemlock really isn’t hard to identify once you know what to look for.

This guide is here help you learn all of the features of poison hemlock and its look-alikes so that you can feel more confident in your foraging adventures!

These New Tests Are Changing the Way We Fight Alzheimer’s

Breakthrough research is making it possible to detect Alzheimer’s even a decade before the first symptoms appear.

Yellow Human brain Anatomical Model

Intriguing new research may make it easier to detect Alzheimer’s—the degenerative neurological disease that affects more than 5 million Americans—in its very earliest stages, perhaps even a decade before the first symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear. And while we still don’t have a cure for the disease, catching it in the early, pre-dementia stages could be the key to keeping your brain as strong as possible for as long as possible, say experts.

“Early detection of Alzheimer’s is so important, because most of the available treatments right now are more effective at the earliest stages in the disease process,” says Elise Caccappolo, PhD, associate professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Medical Center. “There are also many lifestyle changes you can make—exercising more, eating a healthy diet, continuing to learn new skills–that can push your symptoms further down the road.” And when we do finally have a cure, Caccappolo adds, it will likely be most effective on patients who are not yet in the later stages of the disease.

Here are three new tests that may give patients a head-start on battling the disease:

Extreme Close-Up Of Human Eye
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A New Eye Test

A growing body of research suggests that peepers could help reveal Alzheimer’s risk earlier. In one of the newest developments, researchers from Boston Medical Center took eye fluid from 80 patients who’d undergone eye surgery and found that those with cognitive impairment had lower levels of two proteins considered to be biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. This bolsters previous studies that found certain changes to retinal blood vessels to be associated with cognition and memory problems. The next step? Researchers hope to do additional clinical trials that incorporate neurological testing as well.

alzheimer's - virtual reality
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Virtual Reality Screenings

Virtual reality (VR) goggles may have a much more important function than entertaining teenagers: One of the first regions of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s is the entorhinal cortex, which is basically the body’s internal navigation system. This is why one of the first warning signs of Alzheimer’s is when a patient gets lost easily, even in familiar places. Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England asked 45 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to complete a VR exercise in which they had to walk through a simulated environment to complete a task. Those who had biomarkers for Alzheimer’s performed worse on the test than those who had MCI due to some other factor, such as aging or stress, demonstrating that the high-tech gadget may someday be used to identify early Alzheimer’s without requiring invasive tests.

A woman getting ready for a blood test

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Super-Accurate Blood Tests

Several new blood tests are in development that may spot markers for Alzheimer’s up to a decade before symptoms appear. One test looks at fats in the bloodstream, and another looks at proteins—in trials, both were able to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s within 1 to 3 years with up to 90% accuracy. But the newest blood test looks at a brain protein called IRS-1, which plays a role in insulin signaling in the brain and is commonly defective in people with the disease. Researchers from the National Institute on Aging gathered samples from 174 people with Alzheimer’s, along with 20 people who had diabetes and a group of 84 healthy people. Those with Alzheimer’s had higher amounts of the inactive form of IRS-1 and lower amounts of the active form than those adults who were healthy. The blood test is still in development, but the researchers said the results were so clear-cut, they predict it will eventually be able to diagnose early Alzheimer’s with 100 percent accuracy.

By & Prevention Magazine

Make A Bee Waterer And Help Hydrate Our Pollinators

Make A Bee Waterer And Help Hydrate Our Pollinators

Imagine how hard just one bee works in a single day. Bees tend to at least 2,000 flowers daily, with tiny wings beating 10,000 times per minute, carrying pollen, and dramatically assisting our food supply.

Sound exhausting? Bees get thirsty, and they need safe water sources. The problem is water is not always available.   

Bees need very shallow water to drink from. However, shallow water evaporates quickly. Birdbaths are not the best option as bees tend to drown if the water is not be shallow enough. As for river and lakes, bees risk their lives trying to get water in the presence of fishes, frogs, and other wildlife, not to mention the risk of being swept away in water currents.

To help hydrate our little pollinators, set up a water feeder by filling a pie pan with marbles and then water. The marbles give the bees a spot to land so that they don’t drown when they come to drink. No more drowned bees!

bee waterer


20 Totally Removable Dorm Room Decor Ideas

You want to give your dorm room personality, but you can’t damage the walls. Sound familiar? We’ve got you covered with these fun, easy and completely removable dorm room projects.

No Nails Allowed? No Worries

Deck out your dorm room with stylish decor ideas that won’t break the rules, like this wall of painted hexagon-shaped cork pieces, attached to the wall with removable adhesive strips.
See 19 more ideas at:

The 10 Best Kept Secrets In Amsterdam

The 10 Best Kept Secrets In Amsterdam

There are some real hidden gems in Amsterdam, tucked away behind the city’s famous landmarks. These quieter, lesser-known attractions rarely attract as much footfall as places like Dam Square, the Rijksmuseum or Vondelpark and are mainly frequented by locals, rather than visitors to the city. So get stuck in with our list of alternative things to do in Amsterdam which are off the beaten path.

Check out Westergasfabriek

Concert Hall, Park
Gashouder, a large-scale concert venue, Westergasfabriek

Gashouder, a large-scale concert venue, Westergasfabriek | © Viennaslide / Alamy Stock Photo

This enormous cultural hub lies in the centre of Westerpark and was built inside of an expansive gasworks facility that dates back to the late 19th century. The whole area has a unique, industrial vibe that matches perfectly with its cultural leanings. It is easy enough to spend entire evenings wandering between Westergasfabriek’s long list of attractions, which include restaurants, music venues, an arthouse cinema and the largest coin-op arcade in the city.

Delve into Amsterdam’s past at the City Archives

History Museum
De Bazel, Amsterdam

De Bazel, Amsterdam | © FORGET Patrick/SAGAPHOTO.COM / Alamy Stock Photo

Unlike most other museums in Amsterdam, it is possible to enter the City Archives’ main exhibition without paying an entrance fee. Even though it is free and features some truly fascinating items, including a police report given by Anne Frank concerning her stolen bicycle and the document that banished Baruch Spinoza from Amsterdam’s Jewish community, this exhibition rarely gets busy. Other temporary exhibitions also take place in the City Archives throughout the year, which usually delve into specific episodes from Amsterdam’s past.

Dine out on REM Eiland

Restaurant, European, Northern European, $$$$$
REM Eiland restaurant, Amsterdam

REM Eiland restaurant, Amsterdam | © Rafael Croonen / Shutterstock

This unusual, waterborne restaurant is housed inside a renovated offshore platform that once stood around nine kilometres off the coast of the Netherlands. In the 1960s, the platform was owned by a group of pirate radio broadcasters, who had to abandon the structure after the Dutch government raided their operation in 1964. Around four decades later, the platform was towed to Amsterdam’s Houthaven harbour and then converted into a classy restaurant. Today, it is possible to access REM Eiland from a nearby jetty and dine inside its spectacular upper decks.

Eat unlimited pancakes onboard the Pancake Boat

Creperie, European, $$$$$
Pannenkoekenboot (Pancake boat) near the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam

Pannenkoekenboot (Pancake boat) near the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam | © StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

During tours onboard the Pancake Boat, passengers are presented with an unlimited supply of Dutch-style pancakes topped with syrup, fruits and powdered sugar. This sugar-fuelled excursion starts in Amsterdam’s northern docklands then trails through the city’s famous harbour, allowing passengers to marvel at the area’s stunning architecture while they chow down on some of the world’s finest pancakes. The tour takes 75 minutes and departs from NDSM-Werf several times a day.

Chill out on Blijburg aan Zee Beach

Ice cream stall on Blijburg City Beach, Amsterdam

Ice cream stall on Blijburg City Beach, Amsterdam | © frans lemmens / Alamy Stock Photo

There are a surprising number of beaches in Amsterdam that either edge onto the city’s lakes, canals or rivers. While it is worth checking out all of these sandy oases, anyone searching for a classic, beach-bum experience may want to head over to Blijburg. This artificial peninsula juts outs into IJmeer lake and has several attractions that are generally associated with seaside resorts, including golden sand, clear water and even a windsurfing school. There’s also a tiki hut-style restaurant located nearby that caters to beach-goers.

Learn about Amsterdam’s secret religious history at Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder

History Museum
Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), Amsterdam

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), Amsterdam | © Michael Harris / Alamy Stock Photo

After the Reformation in the 16th century, the newly established Calvinist Dutch government officially outlawed Catholicism. Though they faced severe punishments, many followers of Catholicism continued to worship in secret and some even built hidden churches. For instance, the upper three storeys of a townhouse on Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal in Amsterdam were converted into a Catholic place of worship in the 1660s. Unlike most other clandestine churches from this period, this chapel has remained almost completely intact and has been preserved as an historic museum since 1888.

Catch a movie at the EYE Film Museum

Art Museum
EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam

EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam | © Andreas Rose / Alamy Stock Photo

Anyone that has travelled through Amsterdam’s Centraal Station may have noticed an oddly shaped building on the northern banks of the river IJ. This unusual, post-modern structure houses the EYE Film Museum – an organisation that preserves items related to Dutch and international cinematic history. There are several important facilities located inside the institute, including a gallery space that regularly hosts exhibitions related to filmmaking, four modern cinemas and a multi-tiered restaurant that looks onto the river IJ. The EYE, as it is colloquially known, also organises special events throughout the month, such as film festivals, movie screenings and concerts.

Cuddle a cat onboard de Poezenboot

De Poezenboot, Amsterdam

De Poezenboot, Amsterdam | © Linda Kennedy / Alamy Stock Photo

This floating cat sanctuary has cared for stray or abandoned kitties for over four decades and welcomes visitors most days of the week. The shelter is moored to the northern banks of Singel canal in central Amsterdam and features a large, lower deck where its feline shipmates are given free reign. Though some cats onboard de Poezenboot aren’t too fussed about humans, others are friendlier and will happily approach strangers. De Poezenboot always welcomes donations and sells some seriously awesome merchandise at its gift shop, including branded t-shirts, posters and tote bags that feature adorable illustrations of its furry residents.

Discover the Amsterdam School’s architecture at Het Schip

Architecture Museum
Het Schip, Amsterdam

Het Schip, Amsterdam | © frans lemmens / Alamy Stock Photo

While Amsterdam’s older architecture certainly deserves the acclaim it has garnered over the years, the city also boasts many important examples of innovative, modern structural design. For instance, in the early 20th century, a close-knit group of socially conscious architects, known as the Amsterdam School, designed buildings throughout the city that were united by their complex, expressive brickwork and curved, almost organic motifs. There’s an entire museum dedicated to the movement’s history, principles and legacy located near Westerpark. This fascinating museum is housed inside a stunning, residential building that was designed by an esteemed member of the Amsterdam School named Michiel de Klerk in 1919.

Take a stroll through Amsterdamse Bos

Amstelveense Poel, part of the Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam

Amstelveense Poel, part of the Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam | © Dafinchi / Shutterstock

This massive park lies roughly 10 kilometres away from Amsterdam’s historic centre and features many diverse terrains ranging from lakeside beaches to dense, ancient forests. Amsterdamse Bos’ size means that there’s plenty of room for outdoorsy activities within its borders, including hiking, jogging and cycling. It is also possible to rent boats inside the park and sail (or peddle) through its many lakes, canals and ponds. There are several other attractions spread around the park, including an open-air theatre and a charming, organic farm where visitors can pet and feed milk-white baby goats.

On my bucket list !


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