Things I Learned: Hemlock

My town gets hemlock advisories.

You know, the poison that Socrates famously killed himself with? Yeah, it apparently grows on the side of the road in the Pacific Northwest.

Hemlock growing on the side of the road. Image from kingcounty.gov

Hemlock growing on the side of the road. Image from kingcounty.gov


You’d think someone would go out with a weedwhacker. Or burn all the freeway medians in a panic. But there isn’t any panic at all. Heck, I didn’t even know we got advisories until I researched poisonous plants (with druidic applications) for Hive & Heist.

It turns out that hemlock isn’t crazy poisonous.

I mean, don’t eat it or anything. It’s definitely poisonous enough. But if you touch it or nibble on it, you’ve got twenty minutes (or more!) to get to the emergency room before your lungs finish shutting down. And you’ll definitely know to go to the hospital when you get the shaking hands, dilating pupils, or trouble breathing. So, you should be good.

Though, twenty minutes… with traffic, can you even get to the hospital in that much time?

In conclusion: DON’T TOUCH POISON HEMLOCK. IT IS DEFINITELY POISONOUS. FATAL, EVEN. OMG, WHY IS IT IN MY CITY?

Also, it’s great in medicines for conditions that could use a smidgeon of lung paralysis (e.g. bronchitis).

Some of my fave sites about hemlock:
Hemlock at WebMD
Poison-hemlock identification (King County, Washington)
Poison Hemlock (United States Department of Agriculture)

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Janine A. Southard is a Writer & Editor for narrative projects. She's a proven talent when it comes to mimicking voices and crafting content for videogames, articles, & fiction.