spotted water hemlock

(Cicuta maculata var. angustifolia)

Conservation Status

 

No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Midwest

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Spotted water hemlock (var. angustifolia) is a 2 to 7 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on one or more stems from several fleshy, tuberous roots. The foliage has a foul smell.

The stems are erect, unbranched or branched at the top, stout, hairless, hollow, and often covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). They may be green or purple. Mature stems are green with purple spots or stripes. The base of the stem is enlarged.

The main stem leaves are alternate and are divided into 3 segments (ternate). Each segment may be again divided into 3 sections (biternate). Each ultimate section is divided into usually 3, sometimes 5 leaflets (pinnate). The lower leaves are up to 18 long and 8 wide, becoming progressively much smaller as they ascend the stem. The uppermost leaves are sometimes undivided. The leaves are on 4 to 12 long leaf stalks, longest near the bottom of the stem, shorter near the top. The leaf stalks form a sheath at the base that wraps around the stem. The leaf nodes are purplish.

The leaflets are narrowly lance-shaped, 1 to 5 long, ¼ to 1½ wide, and hairless. They are often folded upward along the main vein. The margins have sharp, forward-pointing teeth. The leaflet nodes are purplish. The radial veins of the leaflet extend to the notches between the teeth, not to the tips of the teeth as in other members of the carrot family. The main leaflets of the middle and upper leaves are more than 5 times as long as wide.

The inflorescence is a compound umbel at the end of the stem and each branch. The umbels are round and 1½ to 5 in diameter. They are composed of 10 to 20 umbellets. They are not subtended by bracts.

The umbellets are on stalks (rays) 2 to 2 long. Each one has 14 to 27 individual flowers on stalks (raylets) up to 1 long.

The flowers are about wide with 5 white, rounded, erect to spreading petals and 5 white stamens. The petals are notched at the tip.

The fruit is dry, dark brown to reddish-brown, 1 16 to long, and almost globe-shaped. It contains 2 seeds and when ripe splits into 2 one-seeded segments. Each segment (mericarp) has 5 ribs: an upper (dorsal) rib; two lateral ribs; and between each lateral rib and the dorsal rib, an intermediate rib. The ribs are blunt and somewhat corky. The dorsal and intermediate ribs are smaller than the lateral ribs and are as wide or wider than the space between the ribs. The lateral ribs are smaller than the oil tube.

The seeds are flattened on one side, rounded on the other.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

2 to 7

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

In water hemlocks the radial veins of the leaflet extend to the notches in the leaflet, not to the tips as in other members of the carrot family.

Bulbet-bearing water hemlock (Cicuta bulbifera) has bulbils at the leaf axils of some of the upper leaves.

Bolander’s water hemlock (Cicuta maculata var. bolanderi) main leaflets of the middle and upper leaves are wider, less than 5 times as long as wide. The fruit is broadly oblong-eliptic, not almost globe-shaped.

Common water hemlock (Cicuta maculata var. maculata) main leaflets of the middle and upper leaves are wider, less than 5 times as long as wide. The fruit is broadly oblong-eliptic, not almost globe-shaped.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet to moderate moisture. Meadows, woods, marshes.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

June to August

 
     
 
Use
 
 

Toxicity

 
 

Spotted water hemlock is the most poisonous plant in Minnesota and may be the most poisonous plant in all of North America. All parts of the plants are toxic, but the tuberous roots, swollen lower stems, and all new growth are especially toxic.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

3, 4.

 
  1/4/2014      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon in Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Apiales (carrots, ivies, and allies)  
  Suborder Apiineae  
 

Family

Apiaceae (carrots)  
  Subfamily Apioideae  
  Tribe Oenantheae  
 

Genus

Cicuta (water hemlock)  
  Species Cicuta maculata (spotted water hemlock)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Cicuta occidentalis

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

common water hemlock

musquash-root

poison parsnip

spotted cowbane

spotted parsley

spotted waterhemlock

spotted water-hemlock

water-hemlock

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Biternate

Twice ternate. A leaf divided into 3 segments, with each segment divided into 3 leaflets.

 

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Compound leaf

A leaf that is divided into leaflets, each leaflet having the general appearance of a leaf, with all leaflets attached to a single leaf stem.

 

Glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

Mericarp

The split, usually one-seeded portion of a dry, multi-seeded fruit.

 

Node

The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

 

Palmate

Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.

 

Pinnate

Having the leaflets of a compound leaf arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk.

 

Sheath

The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.

 

Ternate

Refers to leaves that are divided into three leaflets or sections.

 

Umbel

A flat-topped or convex, umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

 

Umbellet

A secondary umbel in a compound umbel.

       
Visitor Photos
   

Share your photo of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       
       

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       

Share your video of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more videos or YouTube links and, if you like, a caption.

       
       
Other Videos
 
       
       
       
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   

Report a sighting of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

     
     
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
         

 

 

 

Binoculars


Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2021 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.