Hemlock Cropping Up Around Spokane

SPOKANE — It was known as the ‘state poison’ for ancient Greece. Now Spokane County Weed Control is seeing hemlock showing up along the Centennial Trail, the South Hill and right across from Minnehaha Park.

“It’s deadly in enough quantities,” Neil Bafus with the Spokane County Weed Control said.

Hemlock is particularly dangerous for young children. According to the Washington Poison Center just four leaves could be toxic if ingested by a child and less than a teaspoon of hemlock sap could also be deadly. 

“If I saw a kid with any amount in his mouth I would rush him to the hospital,” Neil Bafus said.

Bafus has been on weed patrol for the past 14 years in Spokane County and Hemlock is a weed he runs into on a regular basis.

The weed resembles parsley. The first year it starts as little green foliage but by the second year it grows into a tall stalk with little white flowers. An identifying feature is the purple and red striping on the stalk. Unfortunately Bafus says it’s a weed that kids like to get into

“I drove by here, there was much more poison hemlock here than there is now and I saw kids stick fighting and I looked at the sticks they were fighting with and it was actually the stalks of poison hemlock,” he said.

Despite the danger, it’s not a weed the Spokane County Weed Board says they are out looking to destroy. There are so many varieties of toxic weeds the board says it would be impossible to fight them all.

“You would not believe the plants with different levels of toxicity,” Bafus said.

The Weed Board recommends that once you identify Hemlock on your property you can remove it by spraying it with herbicide.