Poison hemlock is a biennial reproducing only by seeds. A basal rosette forms the first year followed by an erect, flowering stalk the second year. Taproot is fleshy, parsnip-like and the biennial roots resemble small white carrots. Stems are erect, hollow between the node, hairless and reach a height of two to seven feet. The stem is much branched, slightly grooved and is often spotted with purple. Leaves are alternate, large, four to five times compound, finely divided and toothed with lacey appearance and are smooth and dark green in color. When crushed, leaves give off a parsnip odor. Flowers are borne in large, terminal, flat-topped to slightly convex umbels. Petals are white and appear from mid-summer through mid-autumn.
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