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Poisonous plant growing rampant in midstate - abc27 WHTM

Poisonous plant growing rampant in midstate

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MOUNT JOY, Pa. (WHTM) -

A poisonous and invasive plant is spreading through the midstate. Poison hemlock is growing rampant, particularly in Lancaster County.

Driving through Lancaster County, you may see little white flowers along the roadside. But their pretty appearance is deceiving.

"Poison hemlock is a non-native, invasive we call it species that just seems to have exploded across the county and South Central PA," said Jeff Graybill, with Penn State Agriculture Extension.

Poison hemlock is even spreading into farmers' fields where livestock graze.

"We don't want that to happen because the potential is there, certainly for death of live stock or illness," said Graybill.

Graybill said there have been a couple of live stock deaths from poison hemlock over the last ten years in Lancaster County.

But it is not just animals that are at risk of being poisoned. The great Greek philosopher Socrates was executed by drinking tea that was made with poison hemlock. The danger of consuming this plant is relevant to midstaters today.

"I mean there have been cases of human poisoning where people have eaten the root because it does look like a wild parsley or some other wild carrot," said Graybill.

Poison hemlock and queen Anne's lace look almost identical. But there are a few distinct differences. The biggest one is size. Poison hemlock is eight feet tall or higher, much taller than Queen Anne's lace, which is only a few feet high. Queen Anne's lace has a black dot in the middle of the white flowers. Poison hemlock has purple spots on the stalk.

So what can be done to weed-out the aggressive plant? If you see it on your property, you should get to the root of the problem.

"I would suggest wearing gloves. You can pull it out. You can spray it with weed killer. It is very deeply rooted so you may have to dig it out," said Graybill

PennDOT is also doing its part by removing the poisonous plant from the roadside.

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