Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Water Hemlock is a reasonably attractive and eloquent plant, while the flowers provide nectar to many beneficial insects. It is fairly easy to distinguish Water Hemlock from other members of the Carrot family because of its double compound leaves and rather large leaflets that are rarely lobed. Many other members of the Carrot family have only simple compound leaves, or their leaflets are much smaller in size, or their leaflets are deeply lobed. On Water Hemlock, the lateral veins of the leaflets extend to the notches between the teeth, rather than to their tips, along the leaf margins. Apparently, no other member of the Carrot family in Illinois has this characteristic.
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Description

This biennial or short-lived perennial plant is 3-6' tall, branching occasionally. The stout stems are terete, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous; they are pale green, pink, or reddish purple, often with prominent longitudinal veins. The lower portion of the central stem is hollow. The compound leaves are odd-pinnate or doubly odd-pinnate; they alternate along the stems. The lower compound leaves are up to 1½' long and ¾' across; the upper compound leaves are much smaller. Each division of a compound leaf typically has 3-7 leaflets. The bases of petioles are partially enclosed by their sheaths; otherwise they are similar to the stems in appearance, although more slender. The glabrous leaflets are 1½-4" long and ½-1¼" across; they are oblong-elliptic with wedge-shaped bottoms, tapered tips, and dentate margins. Sometimes the leaflets fold upward along the length of their central veins. Leaflet venation is pinnate. The lateral veins of leaflets extend to the notches between the teeth, rather than to their tips, along the leaflet margins. The upper stems occasionally produce compound umbels of small white flowers. These compound umbels are up to 6" across and consist of 10-20 umbellets. Individual umbels are dome-shaped on top, rather than flat. Individual umbellets have about 12-15 flowers that are clustered together. Each flower is about 1/8" across, consisting of 5 white petals, an insignificant calyx, 5 white stamens, and a divided style. The tiny petals are constricted at their bases, and they have notched tips. The blooming period occurs during mid-summer, lasting about 1 month. The flowers have a slight fragrance that is sometimes detectable. Afterwards, each flower is replaced by a small angular fruit containing a pair of seeds. The root system consists of several fleshy roots at the base of the plant; they are ovoid or oblongoid in shape. These fleshy roots are exceptionally poisonous; the stems and foliage are somewhat less poisonous. This plant spreads by reseeding itself into neighboring areas.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Type Information

Holotype for Cicuta dakotica Greene
Catalog Number: US 48622
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. J. Thornber
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Brookings, college farm grounds., Brookings, South Dakota, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Greene, E. L. 1912. Leafl. Bot. Observ. Crit. 2: 237.
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Holotype for Cicuta arguta Greene
Catalog Number: US 46846
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): D. Griffiths & J. Schlosser
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: Forest City., South Dakota, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Greene, E. L. 1912. Leafl. Bot. Observ. Crit. 2: 238.
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Isotype for Cicuta ampla Greene
Catalog Number: US 58579
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): C. Wheeler
Year Collected: 1891
Locality: Near the college., Michigan, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Greene, E. L. 1912. Leafl. Bot. Observ. Crit. 2: 241.
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Ecology

Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Water Hemlock in Illinois

Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock)
(Short-tongued bees collect pollen or suck nectar, other insects suck nectar, except those that are predatory, as indicated below; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from LaBerge, Mitchell, Moure & Hurd, Graenicher, Krombein et al., Mawdsley, and Lisberg & Young as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus impatiens sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn, Melissodes comptoides (LB); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn, Megachile mendica (Mch), Megachile petulans sn, Megachile pugnatus sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn, Agapostemon splendens (Mch), Agapostemon virescens sn, Augochlora purus purus sn, Augochlorella striata sn cp, Augochloropsis metallica metallica sn, Halictus confusus sn, Halictus ligatus sn cp, Halictus parallelus sn cp, Halictus rubicunda sn cp fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp, Lasioglossum pectoralis (MH), Lasioglossum truncatus (MH), Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes confertus sn (Mch), Sphecodes dichroa sn fq, Sphecodes stygius sn; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes eulophi sn, Colletes latitarsis sn, Colletes simulans armata sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn, Hylaeus illinoisensis sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn, Hylaeus modestus modestus sn, Hylaeus saniculae sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena fragilis (Kr)

Wasps
Sphecidae (Astatinae): Astata bicolor, Astata unicolor fq; Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bembix americana, Bicyrtes quadrifasciata, Gorytes atricornis, Gorytes simillimus, Pseudoplisus phaleratus fq, Sphecius speciosus fq, Stizoides renicinctus, Stizus brevipennis fq icp, Synnevrus aurinotus, Synnevrus plagiatus; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Anacrabro ocellatus fq, Ectemnius atriceps, Ectemnius continuus, Ectemnius decemmaculatus fq, Ectemnius lapidarius, Ectemnius rufifemur, Ectemnius rufipes, Ectemnius trifasciatus, Lestica confluentus, Lindenius columbianus fq, Oxybelus cressonii, Oxybelus emarginatus fq, Oxybelus laetus, Oxybelus mexicanus fq, Oxybelus niger, Oxybelus packardii fq, Oxybelus uniglumis fq, Notoglossa inornata; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Ancistromma distincta, Larra analis, Liris argentata fq, Lyroda subita fq, Tachysphex acuta, Tachysphex belfragei, Tachysphex terminata, Tachytes aurulenta fq, Tachytes chrysopyga, Tachytes distinctus fq, Tachytes pepticus; Sphecidae (Pemphredoninae): Pluto tibialis; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris bicornuta, Cerceris clypeata, Cerceris compacta fq, Cerceris finitima, Cerceris fumipennis, Cerceris kennicottii, Eucerceris zonata, Philanthus gibbosus; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Ammophila nigricans, Chalybion californicus, Chlorion aerarius fq, Eremnophila aureonotata, Isodontia apicalis, Isodontia philadelphica, Prionyx atrata, Prionyx thomae, Sceliphron caementaria fq, Sphex ichneumonea, Sphex pensylvanica; Vespidae: Dolichovespula maculata, Polistes annularis, Polistes carolina, Polistes dorsalis fq, Polistes fuscata fq, Vespula germanica, Vespula squamosa, Vespula vidua; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus adiabatus, Ancistrocerus campestris, Eumenes fraterna, Euodynerus annulatus, Euodynerus foraminatus fq, Leionotus scrophulariae (Rb, MS), Monobia quadridens, Pseudodynerus quadrisectus fq, Stenodynerus anormis; Sapygidae: Sapyga interrupta fq; Tiphiidae: Myzinum caroliniana, Myzinum quinquecincta fq; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta fq, Scolia nobilitata; Pompilidae: Ageniella fulgifrons, Ageniella longulus, Anoplius americanus, Anoplius atrox, Anoplius illinoensis, Anoplius lepidus, Anoplius nigritus fq, Anoplius tenebrosus, Ceropales bipunctata, Ceropales elegans, Ceropales fulvipes, Ceropales maculata, Ceropales robinsonii, Cryptocheilus terminatus, Entypus fulvicornis fq, Entypus unifasciatus, Episyron biguttatus, Evagetes ingenuus, Poecilopompilus algidus, Poecilopompilus interrupta fq, Tachypompilus ferruginea; Mutillidae: Dasymutilla macra, Pseudomethoca frigida, Timulla vagans, Timulla sayi; Chrysididae: Ceratochrysis perpulchra, Chrysis montana, Chrysis venusta, Elampus hyalinus, Hedychridium dimidiatum, Hedychrum wiltii, Holopyga ventrale fq; Eucoilidae: Eucoila erythropus, Eucoila impatiens, Eucoilidea canadensis; Figitidae: Xyalophora quinquelineata; Chalcididae: Brachymeria ovata, Bruchophagus gibba; Leucospididae: Leucospis affinis; Perilampidae: Euperilampus triangularis, Perilampus hyalinus; Gasteruptiidae: Gasteruption tarsatorius; Ichneumonidae: Ichneumon ambulatorius; Braconidae: Alabagrus sanctus, Bracon mellitor, Crassomicrodus divisus, Microgaster gelechiae, Vipio rugator, Vipio vulgaris

Ants
Formicidae: Formica fusca

Flies
Sciaridae: Eugnoriste occidentalis, Sciara atrata; Mycetophilidae: Epicypta scatophora; Tabanidae: Chrysops striatus, Tabanus lineola; Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus glaber, Stratiomys meigenii, Stratiomys normula; Mydidae: Mydas clavatus, Mydas tibialis; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Epistrophe grossulariae (Gr), Eristalinus aeneus, Eristalis flavipes, Eristalis stipator, Eristalis tenax, Mallota albipilis, Mallota bautias (Gr), Orthonevra nitida icp, Paragus bicolor fq, Paragus tibialis, Platycheirus quadratus, Sphaerophoria contiqua fq, Syritta pipiens fq, Toxomerus geminatus, Toxomerus marginatus, Toxomerus politus, Trichopsomyia banksi, Tropidia quadrata; Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa fascipennis, Villa alternata (Gr); Scenopinidae: Scenopinus nubillipes; Conopidae: Physoconops brachyrhynchus, Thecophora occidensis, Zodion americanum; Tachinidae: Archytas analis, Archytas aterrima, Belvosia bifasciata, Belvosia unifasciata, Chetogena claripennis fq, Copecrypta ruficauda, Euclytia flava, Gnadochaeta clistoides, Gnadochaeta metallica, Gymnoclytia immaculata, Gymnoclytia occidua fq, Gymnosoma fuliginosum, Hystriciella pilosa, Linnaemya comta fq, Lydella radicis, Nemorilla pyste, Opsidia gonioides, Paradidyma singularis, Phasia aeneoventris, Phasia purpurascens fq, Spallanzania hesperidarum, Trichopoda lanipes, Trichopoda pennipes, Winthemia quadripustulata; Sarcophagidae: Amobia aurifrons fq, Blaesoxipha hunteri, Helicobia rapax, Ravinia anxia, Ravinia stimulans, Sarcophaga sinuata, Senotainia rubriventris fq, Sphixapata trilineata fq; Calliphoridae: Cochliomyia macellaria fq, Phormia regina; Muscidae: Graphomya americana, Limnophora narona, Morellia micans, Musca domestica fq, Mydaea urbana, Neomyia cornicina fq, Stomoxys calcitrans; Anthomyiidae: Calythea nigricans, Heterostylodes laevis; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata; Sepsidae: Sepsis violacea; Tephritidae: Euraresta aequalis; Chloropidae: Hippelates plebejus; Milichiidae: Leptometopa latipes

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Libytheana carinenta, Limenitis archippus, Phyciodes tharos, Speyeria cybele; Lycaenidae: Everes comyntas; Pieridae: Colias philodice; Papilionidae: Papilio marcellus

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis

Beetles
Cerambycidae: Batyle suturale, Euderces picipes; Chrysomelidae: Diabrotica cristata, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, Sennius abbreviatus; Cleridae: Phyllobaenus pubescens (Mwd); Coccinellidae: Coccinella novemnotata, Scymnus consobrinus; Curculionidae: Centrinaspis picumna, Odontocorynus scutellum-album; Mordellidae: Mordella marginata, Mordella melaena, Mordella quadripunctata (LY); Meloidae: Epicauta atrata; Rhipiphoridae: Rhipiphorus fasciata lgf

Plant Bugs
Thyreocoridae: Corimelaena pulicarius; Phymatidae: Phymata fasciatus prd np

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Faunal Associations

The exposed nectar of the flowers attracts primarily insects with short mouth parts, such as flies and wasps. Other floral visitors include short-tongued bees, small butterflies, and beetles. Unusual wasps visit the flowers, including cuckoo wasps, Chalcids, Braconid wasps, spider wasps, paper wasps, mud daubers, Eucoilid wasps, Perilampid wasps, Sapygid wasps, Astatinine wasps, wild carrot wasps, and velvet ants (the latter are actually wasps, notwithstanding the common name). The caterpillars of Papilio polyxenes asterias (Black Swallowtail) feed on the foliage, while the larvae of an Epermeniid moth, Epermenia cicutaella, feed on the flowers and developing seeds. Several aphids suck plant juices from hemlocks (Cicuta spp.), including Aphis saniculae, Aphis thaspii, Cavariella aegopodii, Cavariella konoi, and Cavariella pastinacae. The toxic foliage and roots are usually left undisturbed by mammalian herbivores, although cattle and other livestock sometimes eat this plant with dire results. The fleshy roots are especially toxic
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cicuta maculata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full to partial sun and wet to moist conditions. Some standing water is tolerated, if it is temporary. Either loamy or sandy soil is acceptable to this plant; it should contain some organic material to retain moisture. Foliar disease isn't a significant problem for healthy plants in an appropriate location. Range & Habitat
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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Folk medicine

Comments: Cherokee Indian contraceptive.

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Wikipedia

Cicuta maculata

Cicuta maculata is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by several common names, including spotted water hemlock, spotted parsley, spotted cowbane, and the suicide root by the Iroquois. It is native to nearly all of North America, from northern Canada to southern Mexico. This is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a hollow erect stem to a maximum height between 1 and 1.5 meters. The long leaves are made up of several lance-shaped, pointed, serrated leaflets. Each shiny green leaflet is 2 to 10 centimeters long and the entire leaf may be up to 40 centimeters long. The inflorescence of white flowers is similar in appearance to many other species in the carrot family. It is a compound umbel with a many clusters of flowers. The dry tan-brown fruit is a few millimeters long.

Toxicity[edit]

Main article: Cicuta toxicity

The plant is occasionally mistaken for parsnips, due to its clusters of white tuberous roots; this is an often fatal error, as the Cicuta is extremely poisonous. Indeed, spotted water hemlock is considered to be North America's most toxic plant.[2][3] Cicuta is fatal when swallowed, causing violent and painful convulsions. Though a number of people have died from water hemlock poisoning over the centuries, livestock have long been the worst affected (hence the name "cowbane"), causing death in as little as 15 minutes.,[4][5]

The chief poison is cicutoxin, an unsaturated aliphatic alcohol that is most concentrated in the roots. Upon human consumption, nausea, vomiting, and tremors occur within 30–60 minutes, followed by severe cramps, projectile vomiting, and convulsions. There are occasional long-term effects, like retrograde amnesia.[6] Ingestion of water hemlock in any quantity can result in death or permanent neurological damage of the central nervous system.

Similar species[edit]

This plant has white flowers in large compound umbels. Therefore, it may be confused with water parsnip, (swamp parsnip, sium suave) and western water hemlock, (Cicuta douglasii). Water parsnip and spotted water hemlock both have cluster of small white flowers shaped like umbrellas, and both have the same habitat near the shore line of lakes, and rivers. Water parsnip has leaves only once compound, and water hemlock has leaves which are three times compound. Spotted water hemlock has a large swelling at the stem base. All Cicuta are highly poisonous.[7] Water parsnip is not poisonous.[8] The water hemlock has bracts at the base of each small flower cluster, not at the base of the main flower head.[9] The Water parsnip has small bracts at the base of flowers and main flower head as well.[10] The Yarrow, (Common Yarrow, Gordaldo, Nosebleed plant, Old Man's Pepper, Sanguinary, Milfoil, Soldier's Woundwort, Thousand-leaf (as its binomial name affirms), Thousand-seal or Achillea millefolium) also has many small white flowers in a cluster. However the yarrow has feathery looking leaves which are pinnately separated into small narrow segments.[11] The cow parsnip (heracleum lanatum, Heracleum maxinium Indian Celery or Pushki, and Heracleum sphondylium, hogweed) is also confused in this group with similar flower groupings. However, the cow parsnip has large, broad leaves, and an unpleasant odour.[12]

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