Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata L.)
This 2-10 feet tall herbaceous perennial or biennial native of the Umbelliferae family is very difficult to separate from other species of the same family. It has a tuberous root with 2-8 oblong tubers which are 1.5-3 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick at the thickest point near the middle and stem end. The purple-streaked stems are stout and erect with much branching. The stems are solid when very young, but become hollow with nodes where the leaflets are attached. The stems are chambered with horizontal diaphragm of pith tissue which are more closely arranged at the base of the stem. The horizontal plates of piths are most easily visible by cutting the stem base lengthwise.
The alternate leaves are pinnately 2-3 times compound. The leaves of most species are lanceolate, 2-5 inches long, and sharply toothed. The base of the ong petioles clasp the stem.
Flowers are white and tiny (no more than 1/8 inch across), have 5 petals, and appear in loose compound umbels at branch ends in mid summer. Umbels measure from 2 to 8 inches across and become somewhat spherical in fruit. Fruits are ovoid and ribbed on the outer surface.
New growth begins from tubers as well as from seeds.
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