Identification and Management of Three Toxic Plants in the Carrot Family

Identification and Management of Three Toxic Plants in the Carrot Family

Plants in the carrot (Apiaceae) family share the characteristic of an umbel-shaped flower head. The family includes hundreds of plants, some that are valuable vegetables and herbs, and a few that are masters in chemical warfare. Accurate identification is important for management and avoiding accidental poisoning. This article reviews distribution, identification and management of three invasive, toxic plants in the carrot family: poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), and giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).

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What's the Most Poisonous Plant in North America?

What's the Most Poisonous Plant in North America?

The carrot (Apiaceae) family comprises 434 genera and about 3,700 species and is characterized by a flat-topped flower cluster, called an umbel. Water hemlock (Cicuta), one of several toxic members of this family, is considered to be the most toxic plant in North America. There are four species of water hemlock in North America, all highly poisonous and native to North America: spotted (C. maculata), western (C. douglasii), bulblet-bearing (C. bulbifera), and Mackenzie’s (C. virosa).

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