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The original item was published from 6/20/2016 1:03:03 PM to 10/1/2016 12:00:00 AM.

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Creston News Room

Posted on: June 20, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Invasive Plant Species: Poison Hemlock

Introduced from Europe as an ornamental, this member of the carrot family has invaded Canada and the United States. Spread by machinery, seeds attached to clothing, and contaminated seed, soil and mulch, these plants inhabit roadsides, ditches and other disturbed areas.

Reaching up to 3 metres tall, Poison Hemlock can be identified by its smooth purple and red blotched stems and bright green triangular fern-like leaves that give the plant a lacy appearance. In its second year, the plant will produce small white flowers contained in clusters that form an umbrella-shaped head. This plant is also known to have a distinctive “musty” smell. Can be confused with Queen Anne’s Lace, Cow Parsnip, Water-Hemlock and Gray’s Lovage.

Why is Poison Hemlock a problem?

PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD: All parts of this plant are highly poisonous if consumed. Dead plants including leaves, roots and stems can remain highly toxic for years. These toxins can also be absorbed through the respiratory system and skin with prolonged contact.

If you suspect that your child or pet has eaten Poison Hemlock, call the BC Poison Control Centre (1-800-567-8911) or your veterinarian.

Poison Hemlock has been identified on Steve’s Ride Trail. The Town of Creston is removing a 2 metre path of Poison Hemlock on either side of the Trail. The Trail will be closed during the removal. This work will be completed by Town Staff following Safe Work Procedures. Poison Hemlock will be removed and placed in clear plastic bags and the bags will be dropped off at the RDCK landfill.

Please contact the Town Hall if you notice Poison Hemlock on any other Town properties.

Controlling Poison Hemlock on Your Property

What should you do?
- Begin treatment as soon as possible by cutting flowering stems to prevent the plants from going to seed.
- Avoid contact with skin. If removing a large infestation, wear respiratory protection. Remember to wash tools after working with Poison Hemlock.
- Manually remove plants. Small plants can be pulled but larger plants will have to be dug out to keep roots intact. DO NOT COMPOST THIS PLANT!
- Mowing or weed whacking consistently in early spring is also a viable control option; however, respiratory protection should be worn. After mowing the area it should be covered by a thick layer of mulch. This method is not recommended for large infestations or where there is a high likelihood of contact with children and pets.

Proper Disposal
Noxious weeds (invasive plants) are accepted at no charge at all RDCK Resource Recovery Facilities for disposal. Noxious weeds must be in transparent bags, unless advance arrangements are made with the Resource Recovery Manager.

For more information about noxious weeds (invasive plants) please contact the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) at 1-844-352-1160 or visit

NOTE: Please stay on developed trails only.

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