Poisonous Hemlock - Conium maculatum

Sue Abonyi

Sandy, United States

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Artist's Description

This huge weed is endemic to Europe and the Mediterranean region to Southern Africa, growing typically on poorly drained, wet soils, particularly near streams and ditches.

It contains powerful neurotoxins disrupting the functions of the central nervous system in humans and in mammal livestock as well. There is a very slight difference between the the dose beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and the slight overdose resulting in death.
Easily misidentified as one of its non-toxic relatives; there are a number of interesting tricks how to identify it reliably, one is smelling the scent of its crushed leaves.

In ancient Greece, in addition to the herbal medicine use sketched above Poisonous Hemlock was used to poison condemned prisoners. The most famous victim of hemlock poisoning is the philosopher Socrates; the “maculatum” meaning “spotted” in Latin refers to the reddish spots on the stem at times interpreted as “Socrates’s blood”.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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