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Hemlock!!! EEK- how to dispose of it?

(51 Posts)
SirVixofVixHall Wed 24-Jun-15 09:49:03

I think I have Hemlock in my garden. I find all the different umbells rather confusing but it does look like it, and it smells like aniseed. I have in the past happily chopped it down and chucked it on the compost, having no idea what it was, but a friend is helping with the garden and suggested it could be hemlock. Having a quick look online it says the stems remain toxic for three years, and the roots are the most poisonous part. I have a dog who eats anything, and hens who forage, so I want to remove it carefully and have no idea how to then safely dispose of it so that it poses no risk to humans or wildlife. Can I bag it and bin it?

shovetheholly Wed 24-Jun-15 10:18:17

Use gloves and wear long sleeves just to be on the safe side! Root it up - get a fork or spade right under it and pull. Then bag and bin.

It's biennial, so look out for the small rosette-like one year plants that won't be flowering and remove those too.

I don't think it can seed very far so hopefully by getting on top of it now you will significantly reduce the problem in future years.

SirVixofVixHall Wed 24-Jun-15 10:18:43

I have two umbels I'm unsure about, i will post a couple of pics later and maybe someone could identify them for me? One has gone to seed but the seed head is quite distinctive.

shovetheholly Wed 24-Jun-15 10:24:17

Umbels are really difficult, aren't they? So many of them look so similar. I'm sure someone can help!

I think I would be tempted to get those seedheads off whatever it is! Just to be on the safe side.

This might be useful too: www.woodland-ways.co.uk/blog/wild-food-diaries/plant-russian-roulette/

www.eatweeds.co.uk/is-it-hemlock-or-cow-parsley

SirVixofVixHall Wed 24-Jun-15 18:06:02

These are the plants, pics 1 and 2 one type

SirVixofVixHall Wed 24-Jun-15 18:08:34

And these pics the other type.

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:27:49

FIRST SET OF PICTURES - I'm not sure that is hemlock. Those leaves don't look quite grooved enough and they are flatter. Hemlock leaves are like old glass in diamond paned windows - they crinkle up and down unevenly - whereas cow parsley leaves are a bit flatter.

Have a look at the stems. Maybe post a closer pic of them too? If they are green, and they are a bit ridged like a mini version of celery or if they are hairy, then it's not likely to be hemlock. If they are red but in a sort of washy watercoloured way, then also unlikely. However, if they are smooth have red blotches, like an ink splatter, on them - then it's hemlock. Another way is to get some thick gloves on and crush some of the foliage. If it smells rank, it's hemlock.

SECOND SET - I'm less sure about this. The leaves are more hemlock shaped, but they don't look broad enough, but that could be the picture. Again, have a look at the stems - are they blotched but hairy (if so, it could well be chervil - the leaf looks close). Can you have a close look at the flowers - do they have beardy bits hanging down from the umbels (bracteoles)? I can't see any in the picture, but just want to check. Again, crush some up (being really careful) and see if it stinks.

I cannot emphasize enough that I am no expert on this. I'm only an amateur at wild flower identification, working from Rose's book, and I'm not even a very good one. I really struggle with the carrot family. I don't think you should take any risks with this!

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:30:07

This is what you're looking for on stems - smooth, non-haired, non-ridged and a pattern of red that looks a bit like an aphid infestation at first glance = hemlock.

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:35:18

And here is cow parsley - there is a fine downy hair on it, and where it is red, the colour washes right through instead of being in distinct blotches. It also has ridges.

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:36:23

And here is rough chervil - looks like hemlock with the blotches but it's all 'orrible and hairy where hemlock is smooth.

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:39:02

another close-up of hemlock.

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 09:46:47

And this, finally (sorry blush), is the stem of sweet cicely (myrrhis odorata). As you can see, where it is reddish (and it's not always red), it's striped rather than blotchy. It has slightly downy stems and graceful fern-like leaves. It also smells of aniseed when it's crushed, like your plant.

Gatekeeper Thu 25-Jun-15 09:49:44

1st photo is sweet cicely- the seeds and aniseed smell identify this

Gatekeeper Thu 25-Jun-15 09:59:56

other pic does look a lot like hemlock but the leaves don't look quite right. Put on some rubber gloves and cut a stem in half to compare with the pic

Gatekeeper Thu 25-Jun-15 10:02:09

the leaves look more like these from a pignut

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 10:47:48

That's a good point about pignut. I assumed this was a larger plant, but that's always hard to judge from photos. If it's small (30-40 cm), then it could be pignut.

According to my book here, it has sort of thin, weedy stems - very thin, possibly more slender than the picture???

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 14:00:08

The first plant does look just like the sweet Cicely stem pictured. The stem is exactly like that. The seeds on it are quite distinctive, but I couldn't find any good pictures of hemlock seedheads online to compare. The second plant isn't small, its about 4 feet high at a guess. But no reddish spattering on the stems. I will get gloves and an old knife and cut a stem and get a pic of the stems to post too.

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 15:11:22

Ok so here is plant 1's (sweet cicely?) seedheads in close up and the stem.

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 15:19:02

Plant 2, Hemlock or harmless? Can't load pics yet as I think I've reached the maximum 6 in 24 hrs. So will load later. But the stems have no staining, are not hairy, and the main stems are ribbed.

Gatekeeper Thu 25-Jun-15 16:02:30

plant 1 def sweet cicely

How tall is the possible hemlock plant ?

Gatekeeper Thu 25-Jun-15 16:05:21

oops...just seen you have answered about the height ; wait for stem pics

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 16:37:48

I don't think either of your plants is hemlock. I agree with Gatekeeper about the first - sweet cicely. I'm really quite sure about it. I've actually been TRYING to grow that in my garden! Hemlock seedheads are much rounder and squatter,. I definitely am not worried about plant 1 now!

I'm intrigued by plant 2. When you are able to post more pictures, can you do one of the stem, close up, and one of the leaves? I wonder if it it might be something called hedge parsley. It is a lot like cow parsley but has solid stems that are unspotted and ridged plus narrower, duller green leaves.

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 17:43:43

I'm going to try and get a really good close up of the leaves and stem. I think I can post the pic in about half an hour..

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 18:20:18

It still isn't letting me post any more pics, even though its gone 24 hours since the first ones- any idea why?

SirVixofVixHall Thu 25-Jun-15 18:22:49

oh, now it will, here they are..

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