Hemlock (Water Hemlock) Conium Maculatum

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
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This page contains information regarding a plant "known to be poisonous" to goats as well as other animals. This information was researched from various resources. Please note, that the author is not a botanist or specialist regarding plants. This information is posted for your reference and comparison purposes only.

Water Hemlock - Click for a full size image Water Hemlock - Click for a full size image Water Hemlock - Click for a full size image

While Hemlock is considered a poisonous plant as a member of the alkaloid family, Hemlock also has several medicinal uses when used in extremely small dosages. Such uses include use an a sedative or analgesic. In larger doses, it has proven to cause paralysis and death. Hemlock is notorious as the poison used as a capital punishment in ancient Greece. The Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death and died in 399 BC after drinking hemlock juice.

Some Known Uses of Hemlock are:

  • Anal fissure
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma (no longer used for this condition)
  • Chorea (no longer used for this condition)
  • Cramps (no longer used for this condition)
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Epilepsy (no longer used for this condition)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Mania (no longer used for this condition)
  • Mastitis
  • Malignant tumors (breast cancer in particular)
  • Premenstrual tension

All parts of the Hemlock plant are poisonous. The leaves and seeds are the most commonly used plant parts, however, young foliage and unripe seeds have the highest alkaloid content. Hemlock contains the following active ingredients:

  • Alkaloids
  • Coniine
  • Volatile oil

The Coniine is extremely toxic and causes congenital deformities. A narcotic herb that sedates and relieves pain.

Hemlock generally sprouts early in the growing season and can often be accidentally ingested by grazing goats. Care should be taken to identify and eradicate this plant from your pastures. One may mis-diagnose a serious medical condition where Hemlock was unknowingly involved.

From my research, I have learned that some goats will unknowingly graze Hemlock and appear to be unaffected. It is quite possible that other plants may neutralize the alkaloids or other poisonous compounds contained in Hemlock. I would be happy to hear from persons that have had experiences with Hemlock, either good or bad.

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