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Water Hemlock
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Cicuta maculata
  

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About Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) Cicuta maculata is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by several common names, including spotted water hemlock, spotted parsley, and spotted cowbane. It is native to nearly all of North America, from northern Canada to southern Mexico. This is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a hollow erect stem to a maximum height between 1 and 1.5 meters. The long leaves are made up of several lance-shaped, pointed, serrated leaflets. Each shiny green leaflet is 2 to 10 centimeters long and the entire leaf may be up to 40 centimeters long. The flower cluster of white flowers is similar in appearance to many other species in the carrot family. It is a compound umbel with a many clusters of flowers. The dry tan-brown fruit is a few millimeters long. The plant is occasionally mistaken for parsnips, due to its clusters of white tuberous roots; this is an often fatal error, as the Cicuta is extremely poisonous. Indeed, spotted water hemlock is considered to be North America's most toxic plant. Cicuta is fatal when swallowed, causing violent and painful convulsions. Though a number of people have died from water hemlock poisoning over the centuries, livestock have long been the worst affected (hence the name "cowbane"), causing death in as little as 15 minutes.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
5 ft (1.5 m)

Native Status
Native

Natural Setting
Site Type
Wet places

Sun
Sun

Elevation ?
1' - 11144'

Annual Precip. ?
5.6" - 59.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 2.30"

Coldest Month ?
24.3° F - 56.5° F

Hottest Month ?
42.6° F - 79.6° F

Humidity ?
0.69 vpd - 26.19 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available


Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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