Don’t Pick the (Hemlock) Flowers

 Take it from our grand-daughter. Don’t pick the hemlock flowers.

A couple of weeks ago, Karter’s bouquet caused painful blisters. She picked wildflowers on an outing with her mom and friends down by the river. All the grandkids always love to pick flowers when they come over here, too. But from now on, they know not to pick the hemlock flowers. I told them just to not pick any white flowers at all, just to be sure.

If you have never seen what poison hemlock or water hemlock sap can do to a person’s skin, it’s a good thing to know.

If you don’t know what these plants look like, that, too is a good thing to learn. Here’s one of the large poison hemlock flowers. I posted about this a couple of months ago.

Poison hemlock flowers
Poison hemlock, Conium maculatum.

There’s another, smaller, variety of hemlock (Cicuta maculata) that goes by the common name “water hemlock”. It looks similar to Queen Anne’s lace and often grows side by side with it. That’s the one Karter picked when she was picking the QAL down by King’s river.

The sap causes terrible blisters and sunlight magnifies the effect.

This is a pic of the smallest blister Karter had.

Blister caused from poison hemlock contact on 4-year old girl.
The smallest blister.

When the blister on her arm leaked fluid, it left a burn mark all the way down her forearm. My daughter didn’t know she had picked them, and didn’t realize every minute longer in the sun that day was making the situation worse.

By the time she broke out in the blisters, it was too late to just wash off the poison. Her babysitter put baking soda on the blisters when they sprang up the first day, and when Karter came to stay with me for the night, she said that helped it feel a lot better.

She stayed with me the next day and I kept her plastered with clay. It was mixed with goldenseal tincture and more baking soda. Karter said it was cold when I put it on there and that it felt nice.

Those lumps are the blisters under the clay, not clay lumps.
Those lumps are the blisters under the clay, not clay lumps.

The clay helped to keep any of the oozing fluid from draining on adjacent skin. Here’s a pic of sweet little Karter wearing mud on her face.

Cute little face full of mud.
Cute little face full of mud.

I don’t know if the clay did much to help, but it did make it feel better and I don’t want another opportunity to compare not using it. The blisters are dried up and her face thankfully never got blisters, just burns. It doesn’t look like it’ll scar. The burn on her arm might, though. Maybe her fingers too.


About Wild Ozark
Wild Ozark is a nature farm. Mostly we grow rocks. I use those rocks and some of the herbs to make earth pigments and watercolor paints. We also grow native clay that I use for making my Fairy Swing Mushrooms. And then there are the trees. We grow lots of trees. My husband uses some for his woodworking and some for our Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup, but for the most part they stand around creating good air, shade, & habitat for the ginseng nursery.
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About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. You can find my art on display and for sale at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas. It's a tiny little town and a bit off the path to anywhere at all, but a wonderful ride out to a most beautiful part of our state. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making arts & crafty things, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Pick the (Hemlock) Flowers

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    1. That blasted “Like” button is always giving me problems, lol. Thanks for your comment. Foxglove is one I don’t see out here very often except in gardens, but I am sure glad it doesn’t grow wild here because they are very pretty flowers and it would be hard to resist picking them! I think there is a native version of it, but it’s not as showy and I don’t think as active.

      1. They’re all over Europe where my sister-in-law lives and they’re so beautiful that you can hardly not pick them. Fortunately, the first time we were there, she mentioned how dangerous they were. Now I just enjoy from a distance.

  1. “Like” doesn’t really convey my feelings. Maybe an “ouch” button? Also avoid foxglove. Even touching it can be a problem and if you have a cut and it gets in, it can be deadly. Such beautiful flowers, but highly poisonous and the method of killing more than a few victims in mystery literature. 🙂

    janet