hutchae84

Posion hemlock in yard

We recently bought a new house and we found out the yard has posion hemlock. Known in one spot but could possibly be in others. I've looked up how to remove it but I'm not going to risk it since I am pregnant. I am extremely nervous as I have two toddlers.


We want to hire a professional but I am worried it will still come back even with proper removal. Any tips, referrals (in Seattle) or personal advice is welcome.


Comments (27)

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    2 years ago

    Well, none of those plants is fennel. To be honest with you I'd dig up all the suspect Apiaceae and just start again with labelled plants if you want to grow fennel, etc. I rarely advocate mass destruction but hemlock is something I'd take no risks with if you don't have the experience to differentiate the plants. I wouldn't take ids from an Internet forum as gospel.

    Best Answer
  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Since we will need to spray and the rest of the yard is an edible garden, would you would consuming any produce elsewhere in the yard? Or only up to a certain distance? I believe the yard needs to be sprayed in a 6ft radius around the area the posion hemlock was in after removal.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 years ago

    Have you confirmed the identification? It is not normally found in cultivated gardens, usually found more in wild or uncultivated areas and open fields. And there are a number of look-alike plants that it can be mistaken for.

    Removal is not all that difficult if a small infestation - spraying is really not necessary. And would need to be done when the plant is actively growing anyway. You just need to be sure when digging it up to remove the tap root completely. I understand that being pregnant this might be something you want to avoid but any landscape service can help you with that.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Gardengal-i personally haven't come out and have someone identify it. There was a renter there for over a decade before we purchased it. He did a walk through of everything in the yard and tolde what it was. He says he digs it up every year but it still comes back. He is an avid (vegetable and fruit) gardener so I am taking his word for now. Based on pictures I have seen, the leafy greens foilage looks like it. It is just starting to emerge from the ground now.

    I am glad to hear you don't think removal is hard. Since it has been there so long, I am also worried it will pop up in other areas of the yard. My babies like to put anything they can find in the yard in their mouth, so this is causing me a lot of anxiety.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    2 years ago

    Why don't you post a clear picture of the plant so we can see it?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 years ago

    Yard, I'm not sure there would be enough of the plant visible at this time of year to make an accurate ID. As I mentioned previously, Conium foliage is easily mistaken for several common look-alike plants. Really need to see clear sections of stems and more importantly, height and flowers to confirm, neither of which will be apparent until much later in the season.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I will be at the new house later this morning and take a pic. It's to the ground currently but there are quite a few leaves, I Believe it's at what you call the "Rosette" stage.

    I don't really want to let it grow to get a proper ID, just because of the young kids, I don't want to chance it. I want to get rid of it before move in. I also read it's easier to remove before it flowers?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 years ago

    Are there any remnants of last season's plants remaining ? Seeing what's left might help as well, especially pieces of the stem or any old flower heads.

    But since you intend to remove anyway, the need to ID may be moot :-) Just caution whoever is doing the work for you to dig deeply, as true poison hemlock has a deep root system that needs to be removed completely.

    It also tends to germinate very rapidly after the seeds form in early summer but some percentage of seeds can remain dormant indefinitely, typically coming to life after ground disturbance. You may want to allow a few weeks to go by for any additional seed germination and then have your workers do a second removal. After that you should be good to go.........unless neighboring properties are similarly affected.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    There are no remnants left from last year. The previous person who lived there would also try and remove it every year and he had a younger child as well. I don't think he let it go to seed while he lived there (11 years). He did mention it would pop up in another section of the yard. I just hope I can find every spot and remove it early. I know seeds can lay dormant for years but I read usually only for 3 years?

    We are doing so much with this property (yard and remodeling house), this was one other thing I didn't want to take on.


    We also have to remove some morning Glory, posion ivy and some brambles (maybe blackberry?) But I'm not quite as worried about those.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 years ago

    If it is popping up in another section, then there is seed being dispersed :-) It is not a rhizomatous spreader.

    Poison ivy in Seattle?? That's a new one. I have never encountered this growing anywhere in western Washington......usually restricted to parts of eastern WA. The morning glory/bindweed and blackberries are common invaders, however.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Maybe it's posion oak? I'll try and take a picture while I'm there today.

    I know posion hemlock spreads by seed only but the other locations could have been there for a long time as well. I don't think it's been able to go to seed in the last decade.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    so I think this might be the posion ivy


    Morning glory,? Kind of early to tell

    Posion hemlock?

  • Diane
    2 years ago
    Following
  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    So the one I took a picture of appears to just be regular ivy. I should of looked at a picture of posion ivy before just taking pictures. I'll go back today or tomorrow and see if I can spot a third vine and take a picture.

  • Embothrium
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Photos do appear to show ivy (Hedera) and poison hemlock (Conium). Get after the poison hemlock before it grows larger, more deeply rooted and harder to dig out later this spring. Or cut it off and keep it cut, that will ruin its whole day as well because it is primarily a biennial plant.

    I had a nice stand of it pop up and bloom last year in soil that I believe came from an urban home site - the towering yet delicate looking weed was lovely in combination with the common foxglove that also appeared in this new bed. (I'm making additional beds in front with free, unwanted/surplus soil I get at random from the projects of a friend who is a landscape contractor).

    Jacobson, Wild Plants of Seattle - Second Edition (2008) designates poison hemlock as "abundant" and "naturalized weedily" there: "It grows with booming vigor in many waste areas, reaching larger size in rich soil, a bit shaded".

    Key characteristics are malodorous foliage (most apparent with small plants when these are disturbed or handled) and purplish blotches on the stalks. These last are visible in your pictures.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Embothrium-thank you for your help. The current owners have given is permission to dig it out now (we don't close on the property for another month). I'm wondering how deep it's root structure is since it's been there so long? I'm planning on hiring a professional to take it out.

    It is currently growing were the previous renter had his compost and pig so it is very fertile soil that I imagine it is loving.


  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Also do you know if young posion hemlock is a different color than mature? I was looking through other parts of the yard and I saw plants with similiar fern like foliage popping up but I'm having a hard time deciding if these are just common weeds or young posion hemlock. I should have taken a picture (I can tomorrow) but the leaf structure was similiar but the color was a lighter green than the established hemlock.

  • Embothrium
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    All you have to do is put on a disposable glove or other protection and disturb the foliage, see if it has the telltale odor. Or look for the blotches on the stalks.

    The basic cycle is that it comes up in fall, grows through the winter and blooms the following summer. And then dies. But I see plants of varying sizes in infestations I get into so there must be some variation in germination times.

  • Sherry
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago
  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the additional information. I'm assuming the smaller leaf areas might not be posion hemlock since it is so small, especially if it starts growing in the fall. I will go back tomorrow and look for purple slots on the base but they are pretty immature. My doctor office advised me against breathing in the hemlock while pregnant so maybe I can get my husband to do the smell test.

  • nandina
    2 years ago

    The time to kill poison hemlock is when it is in its early rosette stage. Using disposable gloves pour a cup of pure Clorox in a container. Using an eye dropper drop 5 drops of Clorox into the center of each rosette. More is not necessary. This is a method I developed years ago to kill deep rooted, unwanted plants. I prefer to treat in this manner while a plant is in very active early growth. The Clorox really does travel down a plant core root, killing it. No wholesale, dangerous above ground spraying applications needed. It is also possible to cut a taller plant back to the ground and treat with Clorox. If the seeds are blowing in from somewhere this will be a constant battle.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Nandina-interesting, I have not heard of that and it's something I could definitely do myself. Based on my picture, is it still early enough to use this method? How can you tell the Clorox is working? I assume I'll want to dig it up regardless after since it is still posioness after it dies.

  • nandina
    2 years ago

    hutchae84, I am returning to answer your question and add a few thoughts to my above remarks. I first developed this idea of using Clorox when faced with a few unwanted dandelions which kept returning with strengthened vigor despite my attempts to dig and remove the roots including the tip ends. One of my experiments included cutting the new growing top off each dandelion and putting just one drop of Clorox on each cut top. (Remember, this is a very powerful product,) Slowly each dandelion showed distress and never did regrow. I recognized that it takes several months for the Clorox to work its way into the very tip ends of the dandelion roots.

    Thinking further on your situation I would attack the problem in the following way when the plants are in the young rosette stage. Carefully, using a cordless drill and moving quickly I would drill each poison hemlock plant about 1" deep directly in the root center core and put the 5 drops of Clorox in that open wound. Really a quick two person job. Be a bit patient. This process does not work overnight. Give it some time. Roots that have been treated and are located in used yard spaces or garden areas can be dug, very carefully. But, wait a growing season. Those tip ends are very deep. Give the Clorox a chance to work.

    And a final word. Clorox applied full strength in the garden is a killer. What I am describing is to be used for special, difficult plants with deep tap roots. This is the only time this method should be used.


  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    2 years ago

    Unless you're going to be eating queen anne's lace out of the same yard and can't tell them apart, why is this anything but a common weed worry?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 years ago

    Because the toxicity of poison hemlock goes well beyond just eating the plant and can include severe skin reactions and and respiratory issues. The identification and control sheet published by our local county noxious weed board includes this statement: "When digging or mowing large amounts of poison-hemlock, it is best to wear gloves and a mask or take frequent breaks to avoid becoming ill. One individual had a severe reaction after pulling plants on a hot day because the toxins were absorbed into her skin. The typical symptoms for humans include dilation of the pupils, dizziness, and trembling followed by slowing of the heartbeat, paralysis of the central nervous system, muscle paralysis, and death due to respiratory failure. For animals, symptoms include nervous trembling, salivation, lack of coordination, pupil dilation, rapid weak pulse, respiratory paralysis, coma, and sometimes death."

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Yardvaark-i wouldn't be so concerned if I didn't have young kids/babies. They especially love to shove whatever they can find outside in their mouths (my older daughter managed to eat grass, bamboo and "mystery" mushrooms when she was a baby). The previous tenants also used it as an city farm so there are a lot of edibles throughout the yard. So there will be the added confusion that it's okay to eat things out of the yard.

  • Hutchae84 Zone 8b/PNW
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Little update/advice needed- we took out the large spot of hemlock and I'll just have to monitor to see if it comes back but I have seen something very similar popping up in another section of the yard. I can't tell of this is also hemlock or possibly fennel. I dug one out and it definitely has an anise smell to it. But one of them was starting to have a young flower on it and it was white which led me to think it was hemlock. I included pics, any insight? (I picked the tossed the flower before taking a picture).

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