A recent article made the local front page news about the spread of a highly poisonous herb, Poison Hemlock, spreading through Lancaster County, PA. This plant that claimed the life of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, may show itself to be a substantial problem in our are in the years to come.
The plant is most often found along roadsides, in pastures, and along field edges. However, just because you don’t have those areas on your property doesn’t exclude you from the possibility of it growing on your property. This invasive plant needs to be one you can quickly identify because of the potential for human and animal fatalities if ingested. Plants and their seeds often become transported in soil added to properties and also can be brought in from a number of sources such as in nursery stock planted. Knowing how to identify Poisonous Hemlock and to manage it will help you to be better prepared to solve a minor problem on your property before you have a major issue.
Management of Poisonous Hemlock is possible. When plants are properly identified they should be sprayed with herbicide if the site conditions warrant it. There are both selective and non-selective herbicides that can be used to accomplish this. A landscape company such as ours, that performs vegetation management services of spraying for Poisonous Hemlock, can best guide you through the options for your property.
After visible control of the weeds are achieved weeks later, dead plants should be removed from the site and disposed of in a landfill, opposed to a municipality composting center, as remaining seeds can be spread. If possible, a vigorous pasture and/or native seed crop should be established to compete with any further seedling growth at the removal site. Poison hemlock remains toxic for several years after being pulled, and it is wise not to leave the dead plants where they might be eaten by wildlife and/or children. Repeat applications of herbicide are recommended if plants begin to regrow.
If you suspect Poisonous Hemlock growing on your property in Lancaster County, PA or surrounding areas, we would be happy to inspect your site and discuss any management considerations you may have. Please contact us if you need additional help.