- Tsuga canadensis L.
- Pine family
- Conium maculatum L.
- Parsley family
- Cicuta maculata L
Parts Usually Used
Poison hemlock: Poison---identify
Hemlock spruce: inner bark and leaves
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
A species of evergreen plant; the volatile oil extracted from dried,
unripe fruit of Conium maculatum, poison hemlock or a poison made
from the hemlock. A European plant with compound umbels of small,
white flowers and finely divided leaves. A branched perennial, 2-6
feet tall. Stems are hollow, grooved; purple-spotted. Leaves are carrot-like,
but in overall outline more like an equilateral triangle, and with
more divisions; leaves ill-scented when bruised. Leafstalks are hairless.
Flowers are white, in umbels; May to August. Similar in appearance
to caraway, valerian, Queen Anne's lace, wild carrot, etc. Care should
be taken in identifying the hemlock plant;
A North American and Asiatic evergreen tree of the pine family, with
drooping branches and short needles; the bark is used in tanning.
A North American evergreen tree growing 50-100 feet high; the bark
is a dull brownish-gray on the outside and red underneath and is made
up of large, rough scales. The leaves are short and needle-like, and
both male and female flowers grow in catkins. The woody seed cones
are less than an inch long. Needles are flat; 5/16-9/16 inches long;
on short slender stalks. Needles are bright green above, silvery whitish
beneath. Cones drooping, to 1 inch long, with few scales; scales rounded.
The oleoresin derived from the bark is dark reddish brown, opaque,
and has a characteristic turpentine-like fragrance. This is the kind
of bark tanners use in making shoe leather.
Poison Hemlock is found in waste ground in most of the United
Hemlock spruce: found in mountain ravines and woods and in
swampy areas. Hills in rocky woods. Nova Scotia to Maryland; Georgia
mountains; Alabama to Kentucky, Indiana, eastern Minnesota.
Poison hemlock: whole plant a traditional folk cancer remedy,
narcotic, sedative, analgesic, spasmolytic, anti-aphrodisiac.
Hemlock spruce: astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic.
Hemlock spruce: a tea of the inner bark or the young twigs
is helpful in kidney and bladder
problems and makes a good enema for diarrhea.
Use it also to wash external sores
and ulcers and as a gargle or
mouthwash for mouth, canker
sores, gangrene, and throat
problems. Put powdered bark in the shoes for tender or sweaty
feet or for foot odor.
Hemlock spruce is the common hemlock tree, one of the old home remedies.
The leaves can be used, but should not be taken during pregnancy.
It can be used in dropsy; it increases the flow of urine. May be used
as a douche for leukorrhea; is good for uterine
problems, and a remedy for colon
trouble and diarrhea when used as an enema.
Native Americans used tea made from leafy twig tips in steam baths
for rheumatism, colds,
coughs, stomach troubles,
and scurvy. Bark is very astringent.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: for internal use, steep 1 tsp. inner bark or twigs
in 1 cup boiling water.
Decoction: for external use, simmer 1 tsp. bark or twigs in
1 cup of water for 10 minutes.
It is better to take smaller doses more often.
Poison hemlock is a deadly poison. Ingestion
can be lethal. Contact can cause dermatitis; juice is highly toxic.
The young poison hemlock plant closely resembles Osha root.
Symptoms of hemlock poisoning: weakness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting,
difficult breathing, paralysis, and death.
Treatment for this poisoning: empty stomach by means of a stomach
pump or an emetic. Give cathartic. Treat respiratory failure with
artificial respiration and oxygen.
Hemlock spruce is not considered poisonous when inner bark
and twigs are used but should never be used during pregnancy.
Use only under medical supervision.