The Hemlock is a common plant which is found all summer in waste places by the roadside and in open woods. It is poisonous, and you should look at it carefully, so as to know and avoid it.

The flowers grow in clusters at the end of green spokes like the ribs of an umbrella, which do not droop before they are fully out.

At the back of each little cluster of flowers you find three tiny pointed green leaves which are all turned to one side. This is the first point by which to recognise the Common Hemlock.
Common Hemlock Plant
The stem is covered with purple blotches, and there is only one other umbrella plant which has a spotted stem.

The Common Hemlock stem is not hairy. It is smooth, with green ridges running up it, and it is not swollen where the leaves branch from it. This is the second point to notice.

The third point, and a very important one, is the shape of the seed-vessels. In the Wild Chervil these are little green beaks, rather long and thin, standing up in clusters. But in the Common Hemlock the seed-vessels are short and round; they are like two small apples stuck close together, and each has a little green swelling at the top. These seed-vessels are covered all over with rough ridges.

The leaves are fern-like, and resemble many of the other umbrella plants.

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