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uses for poison hemlock?  RSS feed

 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Greetings everyone,  I'm new to this forum.  Didn't find an introduction page, so thought I would just jump in here.   We have a lot of poison hemlock 'conicum maculatum' in one of our pastures [we keep goats] Of course we fence the animals out, and are trying to get rid of it by multiple cuttings, but I'm just wondering if there are any other uses that anyone has heard of.  It is obviously a successful pioneer species. Doesn't have much structure when dried.  Any ideas?   thanks gary
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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It has been used as a medicinal in the past, but the dosage between useful and toxic is so close that it is too dangerous for a lay person to use for anything.

I cannot find that it has any uses, but if you are in one of the states that considers it a noxious weed, your county  may fine you for not eliminating it, and then charge you for having to send their Noxious Weed Killer People in to take care of it.

If you're attempting to control it by mowing, cut it as low as you can get away with, and you'd best keep after it constantly (one mowing isn't enough), and don't let it flower or go to seed, or you'll just have more.  Ignoring a noxious weed like this and letting it reseed is one of the Big Stupids that some farmers perpetuate.

Pulling it out is usually most effective, and you don't even usually have to get all the root.  It is an annual plant, not a perennial that lives from year to year. 

Check your fields every spring, esp after a good rain, or when the soil is wet, and it's much easier to pull up, usually slipping right out of the soil.

Just remember to dispose of the plants, as they remain toxic for a long time, and if an animal eats it when it's dry, it's still toxic.  It's probably one of the few things I won't add to my compost pile.  Bag it and get rid of it completely.  Sure, it will probably break down eventually, but if a horse or cow or goat gets hold of it, the cost has been much higher than its value in a compost pile.

Sue
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Thanks Sue,  Yes, I didn't think there was anything to do with it other than get rid of it.  It is on some land near us that we lease and we attack it with weed eaters several times a year.    There is probably an acre of it.  Maybe I can out compete it with some seed balls of mustard or other fast and early growing plant.  We are wanting to sell organic goat meat, so spraying is out.
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
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Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
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gary wrote:
Thanks Sue,   Yes, I didn't think there was anything to do with it other than get rid of it.  It is on some land near us that we lease and we attack it with weed eaters several times a year.    There is probably an acre of it.   Maybe I can out compete it with some seed balls of mustard or other fast and early growing plant.   We are wanting to sell organic goat meat, so spraying is out.


Good luck, and thanks for putting in the work. 

I have a friend in the wildcrafting community who teach others never even to touch the stuff, because she lost friends who died from eating tiny amounts of it.

It's in the carrot family... anybody know a good way to kill carrots without spray?  Maybe pulling them up by the roots when the ground is wet, and cutting their heads off every time they try to seed out.  I've never tried to get rid of a whole field of it.

Signs for the uninitiated:
1) Hollow stems (name haem =  hollow?) especially at base of stem.
2) Red freckles near base of stems
3) Hairless
4) Tubular joints, rather than wraparound "leaf" type joints.
Overall appearance is like wild carrot, parsley, or "queen anne's lace."

One of the few things around here that can kill you dead without a second chance.
'Wild carrot stew' is one of those warning signs that your camping buddy is about to become your accidental killer.

-Erica
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Does it not burn?
 
                    
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When we were kids we had a huge field of it next door, we used the dry stalks as throwing spears because the are light weight & fly well, we would try to throw them through a hoop in a tree.
It made nice shade on a hot day. We played by it & under it, I don't think it made us ill but who knows? we were just kids we wouldn't have connected it to feeling ill.
Other than that I not hear of any use for it & the only time I ever saw it cleared was by fire & then it just grew back the next year.

D
 
Arp Bexxx
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Well , very aggressive one. I found out, the best to look, when it starts growing, a little ones, and pull them out including root, and than separate it. Sorry. Extremely dangerous. Don't touch it without gloves! Someone posted to a forum, when they walked around a forest, and a woman touched it, she couldn't move in 5 minutes, and ambulance taken her away. Platon a.k.a. Socrates, his figure were killed by the tea or extraction made of it. That was a death penalty in Greece at that time. So if You remove it as soon as it grows, than You have much bigger chance to get rid of it in a couple of years, otherwise as soon as the flower seeds taken by wind all around, it starts growing at autumn more aggressively, so the next spring. Than it floods you area. The big ones usually breaks when You pull it out, and left the root in ground. All other fact written before, are important. Its anti cancer by the way, for centuries, 'doctors' use it against cancer.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
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In the anecdotal stories about severe poisoning/death I think there is probably some confusion between poison hemlock (Conium spp) and water hemlock (Cicuta spp). Conium is the less toxic one, I've handled it without gloves many times (ymmv, given plants grow stronger in different places). I find it unpleasant to be around, including breathing when I have walked through stands of it and it's been crushed, but have never had any symptoms. Yes it's very toxic to ingest, but I don't think a single bite would do it (whereas a small amount of Cicuta root would).

Here's a story of a forager chewing a few Conium seeds (isn't sure if he swallows any), and his teacher who got very sick from eating leaves.

http://www.rootsimple.com/2013/10/bad-forager-mistaking-hemlock-for-fennel/

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/821362-overview#a0199 (compares water and poison hemlock)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conium_maculatum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicuta

 
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