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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

FDA Poisonous Plant Database

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AUTHOR(S): Anonymous
TITLE: Reducing livestock losses from water hemlock poisoning in the western states.
YEAR: 1958 CITATION: U S Dep Agric Pamphlet, PA-330(), 3 pp [English]
FDA #: F05009
ABSTRACT: Article: Water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii) is probably the most poisonous plant in the United States. Only a small amount of the toxic substance is necessary to produce poisoning in livestock or in man. The underground portions of the plant, especially the tuberous roots, are very dangerous. Severe livestock losses may occur when the roots become exposed and are eaten by animals. People are sometimes poisoned by eating the roots, which they mistake for wild parsnips. The toxic substance in water hemlock is cicutoxin, a thick yellowish liquid that has a strong carrotlike odor. It is found principally in the roots, but is also present in the leaves and stems during early growth. Leaves and stems lose most of their toxicity as they mature. Where and When It Grows: Water hemlock, a wet-land plant, is commonly found in wet meadows and pastures and along streams. It starts growth in the spring, and in the higher elevations flowers in June or July. How It Affects Livestock: Livestock usually show symptoms of poisoning 1 to 12 hours after thet eat the plant; they may die within a few hours after symptoms appear. Symptoms of water hemlock poisoning: 1. Muscle twitching, 2. Rapid pulse, 3. Rapid breating, 4. Tremors, 5. Convulsions, 6. Dilation of the pupils, 7. Excessive salivation, 8. Frothing at the mouth. How to Reduce Livestock Losses: Livestock owners can reduce losses by keeping animals away from places where water hemlock grows, and by eradicating the plants. The plants usually grow in small patches, and are easy to locate and eradicate. They can be eradicated by grubbing or by spraying them with a herbicide, such as 2,4,-D or 2,4,5-T. If they are grubbed, all plant parts, especiially the roots, must be gathered and burned. If they are sprayed, follow-up treatments are necessary until eradication is completed. There is no effective treatment for water hemlock poisoning. Toxic substances act so rapidly that an affected animal can seldom be saved.
GRIN #: 316620 Exit Disclaimer
COMMON NAME
STANDARD COMMON NAME
FAMILYApiaceae
LATIN NAMECicuta douglasii
STANDARD PLANT NAMECicuta douglasii (DC.) J. M. Coult. & Rose
GRIN #: 10545 Exit Disclaimer
COMMON NAME
STANDARD COMMON NAME
FAMILYApiaceae
LATIN NAMECicuta maculata
STANDARD PLANT NAMECicuta maculata L.
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