How to Protect Your Fur Babies From Poison Hemlock

Poison hemlock is a weed that has experienced a surge in prevalence during its growing season this summer, which is late June to August, and it’s spreading from roadsides to fields, and to more populated areas—like yards.

As its name implies, poison hemlock is toxic and is a danger to humans, livestock, and pets if ingested—but you wouldn’t suspect this judging by its appearance. This flowering weed produces eye-catching umbrella-shaped clusters of small white flowers at the ends of each stem. You could compare its appearance to that of Queen Anne's lace.

In case you’re a little curious about its origin, poison hemlock was introduced into American gardens from Europe and Asia back in the 1800s and was billed as a winter fern. But its invasive nature caused it to proliferate into fields, farms, and yards all over the U.S.

Here’s how to protect your fur babies from a weed that can be both lovely and lethal.

How to protect your pets    

If you identify poison hemlock at your local dog park you should notify property owners. If you spot it in your own neighborhood you should contact your HOA to alert them of its presence.

What should you do if you find this blooming weed in your own yard? According to the USDA, if you plan to remove poison hemlock be sure to wear gloves. It’s not wise to mow over the plant because its roots will remain and its seeds will scatter where you mow. If you try to kill the weed with herbicides and by removal you can expect it to return the following season, since it may take more than one season to rid your yard of seeds that took root.

Before tackling this poisonous plant you can contact your local USDA, or college that offers extension courses on local plants, if you want to learn more about how to handle it. Most importantly, keep an eye on your fur babies, and—of course—small children who may take interest in the plant’s beautiful, but deceptive, blooms and try to handle or ingest any portion of the plant.

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