Many trees and plants are growing across Minnesota right now, including a few that shouldn't be here-- like this invasive plant that is highly poisonous.

We've heard for several years already about how some invasive plants have found their way to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Like, say, the always-nasty wild parsnip. (It's the invasive plant you don't want to touch because touching even a small part of it and then being exposed to sunlight can cause some really not-so-fun burns.)

Other invasive plants have been recently spotted in the North Star State, like alliaria petiolata, or garlic mustard. While it IS an invasive plant that can take over the woods or your yard, it's not as worrisome as this plant.

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is sounding the alarm about this toxic, invasive plant that has been reported with increasing frequency and in new areas of Minnesota in recent years. And this one is highly poisonous. The DNR says you should avoid even touching it, which could be fatal if ingested.

Just what is it? It's the conium maculatum or poison hemlock. The DNR says while it was first introduced to North America in the 1800s as a garden plant, it can be found in Minnesota these days along streams and roadsides, and in wet areas, fields, and disturbed habitats.


The DRN reiterates that this plant is highly toxic. You're advised not to touch it, and certainly not to ingest any parts of the plant, the DNR warns, as it is poisonous to both humans and livestock. Here's what to look for:

  • This herbaceous plant has clusters of white flowers and fern-like leaves. It can grow three to eight feet tall and has purple spots or splotches along the stem.
  • The hairless stems are hollow, have ridges, and are marked with purple spots or a mottled pattern. Leaves are triangular, dark green, very lacy and fern-like.
  • Small white flowers with five petals are found in umbrella-shaped clusters that are 3-6 inches across.

The DNR has a four-step plan for dealing with invasive plants, which includes:

1) REMOVE plants, animals and mud from boots, gear, pets and vehicles.
2) CLEAN your gear before entering and leaving the recreation site.
3) STAY on designated roads and trails.
4) PLANT non-invasive species.

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However, if you suspect you have poisonous hemlock in YOUR yard, the DNR and the University of Minnesota both agree it is best if you call a professional to remove it.

We recommend you call a professional to safely dispose of the poison plants. Do not compost the plants as the seed and poison will stay viable into the future and more plants will reappear later. Do not burn the plants as this may release the toxin.

If poisonous hemlock is on your land, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says you should have it removed, noting: 'Efforts must be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by the county or local municipality.'

Listen to Curt St. John & Samm Adams
Weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. on Quick Country 96.5

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Gallery Credit: Curt St. John

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