Is a hemlock poisonous?

Tracheophytes—gymnosperms Read more from
Chapter Plant Diversity

Two species are commonly known as hemlock: Conium maculatum and Tsuga canadensis. The first is a weedy plant, and all parts of it are poisonous. In ancient times, minimal doses of the plant were used to relieve pain, although with a great risk of poisoning from this form of treatment. This hemlock was also used to carry out death sentences in ancient times; for example, the Greek Athenian philosopher Socrates (469 B.C.E.–399 B.C.E.) was condemned to death and sentenced to drink a potion made from hemlock. The poisonous species should not be confused with Tsuga canadensis, a member of the evergreen family. Its leaves are not poisonous and are often used to make tea.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Biology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App