Poison hemlock confirmed in two Minnesota counties

Poison hemlock has been confirmed in Clay County. Minnesota Department of Agriculture / Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD — Poison hemlock, a highly toxic plant that looks like wild carrot and grows in moist areas and along rights of way, has been confirmed in Clay County.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced the discovery in a news release that also confirmed poison hemlock has been detected in Nobles County in southern Minnesota.

Poison hemlock is on the state's prohibited eradicate list of weeds, which are among the worst types of weeds. By law, property owners are required to wipe out all above- and below-ground plant parts, as the weeds may be harmful to public health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property.

Poison hemlock is very toxic to humans and animals, and serious poisoning can occur even when small amounts are ingested, according to information on the USDA Agricultural Research Service website.

Joe Ikley, an extension service weed specialist at North Dakota State University, said when it comes to kids or pets, individuals would have to seriously rub on a plant to experience any skin issues.


He said the biggest danger comes in a plant's first year, when the weed appears small and delicate and grazing cattle or horses can mistake it for something edible. By its second year, a poison hemlock plant can be 5 to 6 feet tall and is therefore less likely to get chewed on by pets or livestock, Ikley said.

He added he isn't aware of the weed having been reported in North Dakota yet.

The plant has white flowers that grow in small, erect clusters and flowers develop into a green, deeply ridged fruit that contains several seeds, according to the Agricultural Research Service.

The agency said roots of poison hemlock are easily mistaken for wild parsnips. The weed often grows along fence lines, in irrigation ditches and in other moist places.

To report a noxious weed, contact the MDA's Arrest the Pest line at, or call 1-888-545-6684.

What To Read Next
Get Local