Editorial Note: Based on mortality data files maintained by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, from 1979 through 1988 (the most recent national data available) at least 58 persons in the United States died after ingesting a poisonous plant that was misidentified as an edible fruit or vegetable; inadvertent ingestion of water hemlock, as in the two cases in this report, caused at least five of these deaths.
Although cicutoxin is present in all parts of the water hemlock plant, the root contains the highest concentration.
Mild toxicity from water hemlock produces nausea, abdominal pain, and epigastric distress within 15-90 minutes.
Water hemlock causes most of the fatalities attributed to misidentification of poisonous plants because the plant is lethal in small quantities, resembles edible plants, and is found throughout North America.
As a preventative, pull water hemlock plants from the soil during the summer when they can readily be found and destroy them.
Aconite, Allspice, Black Snakeroot, Bloodroot, Blue Cohosh, Boxwood, Celandine, Common Poppy, Crotalaria, Crow Poison, Death Camas, Dicentra, False Hellebore, False Jessamine, Fume wort, Hellebore, Hemp, Horse Nettle, Indian Hemp, Indian poke, Jimson weed, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lupines, Marijuana, Monkshood, Moonseed, Night shade, Pink Death, Camas Poison, Darnel, Poison Hemlock, Poison rye grass, Rattleweed, Rock Poppy, Spider Lily, Spotted cowbane, Spotted Water Hemlock, Stagger grass, Staggerweed, Sweet Shrub, Thorn Apple, Varebells, Wild Parsnip, Wolfs-bane, Yellow Jessamine.