State foresters warning about poisonous plant growing rampant in Pennsylvania

FERMANAGH TOWNSHIP, JUNIATA COUNTY, Pa. -- Tonight, foresters with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are warning about a poisonous plant growing throughout Pennsylvania.

It’s called Poison Hemlock, and it can be dangerous.

Here's a link from DCNR, providing information about the plant, what it looks like, and how it spreads.

According to the USDA, Poison hemlock contains eight known alkaloids, including coniine and coniceine that are extremely toxic to humans, livestock, and wildlife.

Foresters say people have mistaken its roots for wild carrot; if ingested, it can cause death.

It's tall, it flowers, and bugs seem to like it, but if you touch Poison Hemlock, it won’t be pretty.
“Just by grabbing on it, pulling on it, you can have severe reactions, and we definitely don’t want people eating it, ingesting it… like livestock, animals, because it can cause death," said Lucas Book, a state forester, covering Juniata and Perry Counties.
Book says the plant is growing rampant throughout the state this year, colonizing along roadways and other ungroomed spots.
FOX43 found a thick growing of the plant off Route 35 in Fermanagh Township, Juniata County.
It’s commonly mistaken for other plants, and some people have never heard of it or its harmful effects.
"This plant is in the carrot family; it actually looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace," stated Book.
It's different from Queen Anne's Lace, though, because of its hollow, purple spotted stems.

People can recognize Poison Hemlock by its small, white flowers, developing into white umbrella shaped clusters.

If someone notices the plant growing, Book says its best to spray a herbicide, mow it down, or pull it out of the ground - just make sure you’re dressed appropriately.

“I used to weed whack in shorts, and I only did that once or twice until I realized that was stupid; if you want to mow this, you’re going to want to wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves," he laughed.
An employee at Spangler's Ace Hardware located at 4072 Carlisle Rd in Dover, York County recommends doing a bit of reading up on the plant.
“This is not, you go to your local hardware store, you buy something and spray on it, you go home and go about your day. You have to do your research to find out what stage the hemlock is in before you can control it," said Jerry Frey, a salesman.
The Plant's stage will determine which herbicide will work best.
Here's a guide from the United States Department of Agriculture, outlining how and when to use herbicides.