Water hemlock? Disposal?
September 12, 2006 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Is this ugly plant water hemlock? There's

I've noticed that plant growing everywhere--not just in the stream as pictured, but by the side of the road near my house. Is it, indeed, water hemlock? These plants have a few small yellow flowers, rather than the characteristic 'tufts' of small white flowers. The stems are purple. (There are some purple flowers in my picture at far right, they're a separate plant.) The photos of water hemlock I've seen are really varied in appearance, so I'm not quite sure that I've correctly identified this plant.

If it is water hemlock, how does one go about getting rid of the plant? My research indicates that the roots are pretty hardy, but that they also contain the highest concentrations of the toxin. I'm afraid to go near the plant, much less to start ripping up the roots. Burning the plant is obviously a terrible idea (if it were even possible, given that it's growing in water). So how do I kill it, and how do I then get rid of it?
posted by fogster to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Umm... unless I'm missing something, you have to actually eat it to be poisoned. I don't think just pulling it up and throwing it out will hurt anyone.

Use some gloves if you're really worried.
posted by sbutler at 9:09 AM on September 12, 2006

Both of these sites say to use gloves and pull it out before it goes to seed.
posted by sbutler at 9:17 AM on September 12, 2006

That doesn't look like water hemlock. Look at the foliage pattern. In your plant, the leaves grow off a stem in clusters of three. In the water hemlock, the leaves grow singly off a stem in regular intervals, with another leaf growing from the end of the stem.
posted by owhydididoit at 10:32 AM on September 12, 2006

Best answer: Hey, I just posted a comment on your Flickr photostream, but in a word, no, I don't think it's Water Hemlock.

Given that you describe the small yellow flowers, I think it's a Bidens species, otherwise known as the Beggar Ticks: their seeds end up in sweaters in the fall (hence the tick name; they like to hitch a ride).
posted by gavia at 10:33 AM on September 12, 2006

I thought it looked like devil's beggarticks as well.
posted by bink at 1:13 PM on September 12, 2006

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