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Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock is highly unusual because it bears clusters of bulblets in the upper leaf axils. I can think of no other plant in Illinois that has this characteristic. Some Allium spp. (Onions) produce bulblets instead of flowers in their umbels, but their bulblets are not produced from the axils of leaves. Another species that occurs in the state, Cicuta maculata (Water Hemlock) is more common. Water Hemlock is a larger plant than Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock and it has broader leaflets (more than 1/3" across). Water Hemlock blooms during mid-summer before Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock begins to bloom. Another white-flowered member of the Carrot family, Sium suave (Water Parsnip), often blooms at the same time as Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock and it occurs in the same wetland habitats. Water Parsnip has 3 lanceolate bracts at the base of its compound umbels and its leaves are always simple-pinnate. Another similar species that blooms late, Oxypolis rigidior (Cowbane), also has leaves that are simple-pinnate. In contrast, the lower leaves of Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock are doubly pinnate.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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