There's an invasive weed that is found throughout Indiana that could be fatal in some cases to humans and animals.

It's called Poison Hemlock, and it is currently invading the state of Indiana. It's been around for years, but it is spreading into urban areas more and more. Typically, you would spot these weeds near highway right-of-ways, along fences, and on the edges of farm fields. However, according to the Indy Star, more recently, they have been showing up in public parks, flower beds, and backyard gardens. To be honest, I had no idea what Poison Hemlock was, but after researching the invasive weed, it would be wise to be on the lookout for them considering they have been spotted in every county in the state of Indiana.

Conium maculatum (hemlock or poison hemlock) is a highly poisonous flowering plant, native to Europe and North Africa, and invasive in other parts of the world, such as California
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What is Poison Hemlock?

According to the Indy Star,

Poison hemlock is a biennial plant. In its first year, it puts out a clump of lacy-looking leaves that grow close to the ground. But during the second year, it sends up a flowering stem that can grow as tall as 4-6 feet — and some even taller.

Again, Poison Hemlock can be found along highways, edges of fields, fences, near streams, and in ditches. More recently, they have made their way to public parks, flower beds, and backyard gardens. The main reason why it has been spreading is that each weed can produce up to 30,000 seeds. These seeds ripen between late Juan and August after it flowers. That means, it is prime time for these seeds to fall off and spread.

Poison Hemlock is a weed that looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace and is the parsley and carrot family. One of the easiest ways to spot a Poison Hemlock and not confuse it with a weed like Queen Anne's Lace is by the purple spots all along the stalk.

Hemlock (Conium maculatum) stem showing purple blotches
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One thing to note about this weed is that the entire thing is poisonous, from the seeds and leaves to the sap!

How Can Poison Hemlock Hurt Humans And Animals?

Poison Hemlock can harm pets and humans in a few ways. For example, if the sap from the plant gets on your skin, once it is exposed to sunlight it can cause blisters and welts. That's something that no one wants to deal with. However, that isn't the worst way Poison Hemlock could hurt you or your pets. If any part of the plant were to be ingested somehow, it could be fatal. The Indy Star reports that Poison Hemlock contains "toxic alkaloids that can interfere with nerve transmissions to your muscles, ultimately causing respiratory failure."

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It doesn't take too long for signs of poisoning to show. Symptoms could appear in as little as 30 minutes after ingesting or being exposed to the plant.  So be on the lookout and keep your pets and children away from any plant that resembles the Poison Hemlock. Better safe than sorry.

Closeup detail of flowers of Conium maculatum aka Poison hemlock.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

As I said, I had no idea bout the Poison Hemlock, or the effects it can have on people. If I didn't know about it, chances are there are a lot of others out there who are unaware too. You can learn more about this invasive, poisonous weed and how to properly discard it in the full report by the Indy Star by clicking here.

(H/T- Indy Star)

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