Do you know what toxic, poison hemlock looks like?

Hemlock runs rampant along railroad tracks

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Hemlock is a poisonous plant with a bad rep. In fact, five leaves are enough to kill an adult. Unfortunately, it’s here to stay in the Commonwealth.

Baker Arboretum Director and Western Kentucky University professor of horticulture Dr. Martin Stone says that hemlock can cause different reactions in different people, much like poison ivy. 

“We’re hearing more about it now. It might be because more people are starting to move out to the country where it’s more common. Or maybe it’s social media that’s driving its awareness, but it’s been around for a long time,” said Stone.

You can easily find hemlock in open, sunny areas, along railroad tracks and in vacant lots. The plant was actually used in Socrates’ execution, according to Dr. Stone. 

If you touch it, immediately wash your hands and monitor your symptoms. 

Worst case scenario, hemlock poisons the nervous system. If you experience problems moving, trembles, vomiting or a number of other side effects from hemlock, it’s best to get a doctor’s opinion. 

In Bowling Green, hemlock runs along Creason Street and areas of Russellville Road parallel with the train tracks.

Stone says it’s easy to mistake the toxic plant for wild carrot, or Queen Anne’s lace, so when in doubt, best to keep a distance.