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'Deadliest plant in North America' invading yards in Ohio, Pennsylvania

Posted at 11:20 AM, Jun 23, 2021

Poisonous hemlock has been called one of North America's deadliest plants, and it's invading yards in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The toxic weed began making headlines in 2019 when it was spreading across southern Ohio. Now it's popping up in Pennsylvania.

Professors Joe Boggs and Erik Draper stated in the Ohio State University's Buckeye Yard & Garden online blog that the plant could be deadly if consumed by humans and animals.

"Poison hemlock is one of the deadliest plants in North America," Boggs and Draper wrote in the blog. "Plants contain highly toxic piperidine alkaloid compounds, including coniine and gamma-Coniceine, which cause respiratory failure and death in mammals. The roots are more toxic than the leaves and stems; however, all parts of the plant including the seeds should be considered dangerous."

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Hemlock is part of the carrot family and has a two-year life cycle. First, it starts out looking like a fern; then, in its second year, it produces flowers.

But if you touch it, it can cause blisters.

To remove it, the USDA says to wear protective gear like pants, long sleeves, and gloves.

Then put the weed in a plastic bag and then throw it away to reduce the seed from spreading.