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Plant in the fall

Cicuta maculata

Common Name: Water Hemlock
Family: Apiaceae

Entry Author:  C. Westring
Description:  A highly poisonous plant that can cause death from even a very small quantity.  (Its roots are sometimes mistaken for parsnips and other common root crops)  A highly branched, erect plant with dome-shaped umbels that grow from tubers or seeds. 
Lanceolate, sharply-toothed, leaves are pinnately 2-3 times compound; 5-7 cm long (basal); leaflets 1.5-3 cm long 
Small, white 5-petaled flowers arranged into loose compound umbels, from 5 to 20 cm wide
Fruits are ovoid and ribbed on the outer surface with 2 seeds
Stem:  Solitary or few together; from a tuberous-thickened and chambered base; conspicuously hollow above the base; erect; branched; hairy; purple striped
Branching Pattern:
   Alternate leaves
Height:  7-17 cm
Conditions/Habitat/Kind of Forest:  Wet meadows, thickets, marshes, shores, stream banks, and freshwater swamps
Range:  Throughout North America
Hardiness Zone:  Hardy to USDA zone 3
Conservation Status-US/ World Wide:  Not threatened
Uses (Human):  Poisonous


Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains.  February 23, 2005.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.  Accessed: November 29, 2005.  <>

Rook, E.  Aquatic Plants Of the North: Cicuta maculata.  February 26, 2004.  Accessed:  November 29, 2005. <>

Thieret, John W.   National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers: Eastern Region (Rev. Ed.).  New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 2001.

Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata L.)  January 21, 2005.  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Veterinary Medicine Library.  Accessed:  November 29, 2005. <>

This page was created by: C. Westring, Muhlenberg College
Last updated 12/21/05