The poison-hemlock is well known historically, being in use at the time
of Socrates, and believed to have been administered to him by the
Greeks. It is quite as poisonous now as in Socrates's day, and
accidental poisoning has come from people eating the seeds, mistaking
them for anise-seed, eating the leaves for parsley and the roots for
parsnips. The plant grows from two to seven feet high; its stem is
smooth and spot
ed or streaked with purplish-red. It has large,
parsley-like leaves and pretty clusters of small, white flowers which
grow, stiff-stemmed, from a common centre and blossom in July and
August. When the fresh leaves are bruised they give out a distinctly
mouse-like odor and they are very nauseating to the taste.
Poison-hemlock is common on waysides and waste places in New York, West
Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio. It is also found in New
England and Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, and California.
The treatment recommended by professionals is emetics, warmth of hands
and feet, artificial respiration, and the subcutaneous injection of
atropine, administered by a physician.