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Hemlock spotted – why should contact with him be avoided?


Probably, many of you have seen a plant along the roads, along the banks of rivers and in wooded areas, somewhat similar to the more famous hogweed. Only the umbrella of this plant is smaller, the stem is reddish and covered with spots, often oblong. And the leaves are similar to those of parsley or carrots. Most likely it is hemlock. And it is not surprising that the full name of this plant is spotted or poisonous hemlock. He got it thanks to these red spots on the stem. Yes, and from his relative hogweed, zot and left, but not far. So: spotted hemlock. What should you know about this plant and why should you avoid contact with it?

First of all, this plant is very poisonous. And you should not contact him once again, as well as with her relative, the hogweed. Like hogweed, parsley, or hemlock carrots ( Conium maculatum ) belongs to the umbrella family. That is why the inflorescence of all these plants is a complex umbrella, which, at times, is so attractive, especially in large specimens reaching 3 meters or more.

Also poisonous hemlock has an interesting historical significance. Known for “hemlock tea”, which was used for execution in ancient Greece. In particular, the philosopher Socrates was executed with a decoction of hemlock. True, other sources claim that the tea was prepared from another poisonous plant from the umbrella family – hemlock ( Cicuta virosa ).

However, unlike those regarding the hogweed relative, allergic reactions to hemlock juice have not yet been registered. And all because of the different chemical composition of the juice of these plants. If hogweed contains furocoumarins , which cause phototoxic effects after contact with UV radiation, then hemlock contains piperidine alkaloids. There are at least five types, each of which is believed to determine the toxicity of the plant. The leading and extremely poisonous among them is coniin. In its structure, it, like other piperidines, is similar to nicotine and is found in all parts of the plant. It is a neurotoxin that disrupts the peripheral nervous system, causing flaccid respiratory paralysis, which eventually leads to death. Leaves and unripe fruits of poison hemlock can contain up to 2% coniine. The concentration of alkaloids depends on the variety, environmental conditions of plant growth and its age.


A person can confuse hemlock leaves, especially a young specimen, with parsley leaves, as well as other umbrella relatives – anise and carrots. After all, the greenery of this poisonous plant often appears in the spring earlier than others. And the root of the hemlock is similar to the root of the turnip or fodder turnip.

Therefore, as follows from the very name of the plant, after eating boligov , the poisoned person will at least have a headache. But this is at best. After all, the list of symptoms of hemlock juice poisoning is not limited to a headache.


Symptoms of their poisoning are:

·      nausea,

·      vomit,

·      abdominal pain,

tachycardia (fast pulse)

· sweating,




pupil dilation,

problems with movement


They may be followed by bradycardia (decreased heart rate), paralysis, and coma. And from respiratory failure, which also provokes hemlock poison, death can occur.

Moreover, a person rarely loses consciousness in the early stages of poisoning. And his urine and the air that the poisoned person exhales have a specific mouse smell. It is believed that the plant itself smells like that.

Hemlock is often eaten by domestic animals that are grazed in the meadows. This plant is especially dangerous for livestock during its pregnancy. In developing embryos, the toxins of this plant cause deformities – a cleft palate and multiple skeletal defects. Predominant among the toxins is the same conein , as well as – γ -conicein .


There is no specific treatment for hemlock juice poisoning. Since the toxicity of the plant is serious, in order to save a person, the treatment of symptoms must be aggressive. It is also necessary to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract, since there are no special antidotes against hemlock poison.

Prevention of poisoning is the ability to recognize hemlock in nature and avoid eating its leaves or roots, which, as already mentioned, can be confused with other vegetables. To prevent this from happening, look closely at the spots on the stem. And definitely go around it on the tenth road if you see characteristic spots and feel a mouse smell near the plant.

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