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.

First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming

Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

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. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, 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

  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. 🙂


    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.

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