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Western Water Hemlock- Cicuta maculata
Family: Apiaceae

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Other names include: Spotted Water Hemlock, Water Hemlock, Common Water Hemlock, Spotted Cowbane, Musquash Root

Description

Leaves alternate, compound, twice or thrice divided, with petioles that partially sheath the stem. Uppermost leaves not dissected. Oblong to ovate in general outline, these compound leaves run 3"-10" long and 2"-6" wide. Basal leaves larger and with longer petioles than cauline leaves. Leaflets linear to broadly lanceolate, pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the base, mostly 1"-4" long, ¼"-1¼" wide, hairy, with regularly pointed and notched edges. Leaflet veins extend into or near the notches of the leaf rather than in the points.
Stems solitary or few together from a tuberous-thickened and chambered base, conspicuously hollow above the base. Erect, branched, each about 2" long. hairy, up to 7' tall. Often has a purple striped or mottled stem base. glabrous, hollow stems Stems are smooth, branching, swollen at the base, purple-striped or mottled, and hollow except for partitions at the junction of the root and stem. with cross-partitions at the nodes and many of these at the base of the stem
A yellow, oily, highly toxic liquid smelling like parsnips exudes from cut stems and roots.
Roots partly tuberous, in dahlia-like clusters of 2 to 8 fleshy roots, each about 2" long, with a scent of parsnip.
Flowers white, many; in compound, flat-topped, umbrella-like clusters at ends of stems and branches.
Sepals 5, green, triangular.
Petals 5, free, white, about 1/10" long.
Ovary inferior (below flower)
Fruit small, dry, nearly spherical, smooth but with prominent corky ribs; up to ¼" long. Ripening July-September.

Interesting facts

Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) is a similar species and a highly toxic exotic which has become naturalised through much of the eastern US. The difference between Cicuta maculata and Conium maculatum is that Conium's leaves are heavily dissected and fernlike, as opposed to the lanceolate leaflets with sharply-toothed edges of Cicuta maculata.

Links to more information


Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers


Western Water Hemlock Video


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