It’s Halloween Weekend, so let’s talk about a plant that is often used in evil ways; a perfect poison.
Hemlock is well known throughout history, and in Ancient Greece was used on Socrates as a form of execution. There are two types to watch for; Poison Hemlock (found in Europe) and Water Hemlock (found in North America). This plant is deadly from it’s leaves to it’s roots.
The poison within the Hemlock plant is Coniine, and it will only take a dose of 0.15 grams to kill an adult. The poison works from the outside in, numbing the extremities until it begins to work on the internal organs, paralyzing the lungs causing death. Hemlock looks much like a salad ingredient, resulting in accidental poisonings (or maybe not!)
Water Hemlock contains different toxins: Cicutoxin and Cicunol. These will cause violet convulsions, cramps and tremors. If you are able to survive, you will most likely suffer long term damage such as amnesia. This plant is considered the most poisonous in North America.
Care is needed when picking wild plants! Hemlock can easily be mistaken for Queen Anne’s Lace.