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Kneehill County Ag Services News

Posted on: August 12, 2021

Plant Alert: Water Hemlock

Poisonous Plant

Dry conditions have led to increased reports of Water Hemlock in Kneehill County, a plant that can be very hazardous to humans and to livestock.

All parts of the Water Hemlock plant are poisonous to humans and livestock, especially the lower stem and roots. Dangerous to touch and very hazardous if ingested, this plant grows in moist habitats such as sloughs, creek banks, and waterways. The dry conditions this year have provided increased plant growth while allowing livestock clear access to the plant.

Key identifying features are: 

  • Purple spots or striations along the stem 
  • Horizontal hollow chambers in the root base, visible when cut open 
  • Twice compound pinnate leaves with toothed margins 
  • Deep veins on the leaves running from the valley of the margin tooth to the center of the leaf 
  • Small white flowers arranged in an umbel with little to no bracts 

Exclusion of livestock from infested areas is recommended. Plants can be carefully removed by hand and placed in black plastic bags to bake in the sun for a minimum of 2 weeks before disposal. Wear personal protective equipment when handling, such as goggles and thick disposable nitrile gloves, and wash thoroughly before eating or using the washroom. 

PLEASE DO NOT BRING PLANT SAMPLES INTO THE OFFICE! 

Contact Kneehill County Ag Services for questions and assistance, 403-443-5541.


Water Hemlock Identification- White Flowers

The plant has small white flowers arranged in an umbel with little to no bracts.

Water Hemlock Identification- Narrow Leaves

Water Hemlock is identifiable by purple spots or striations along the stem.

Water Hemlock Identification- Hollow Roots

Horizontal hollow chambers in the root base are visible when cut open

Water Hemlock Identification- Narrow Leaves

The plant has twice compound pinnate leaves with toothed margins.

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