Stem. - Smooth, stout, from two to six feet high, streaked with purple. Leaves. - Twice or thrice-compound, leaflets coarsely toothed. Flowers. - White, in compound umbels, the little umbels composed of numerous flowers.
This plant is often confused with the wild carrot, the sweet Cicely, and other white-flowered members of the Parsley family; but it can usually be identified by its purple-streaked stem. The umbels of the water-hemlock are also more loosely clustered than those of the carrot, and their stalks are much more unequal. It is commonly found in marshy ground, blossoming in midsummer. Its popular names refer to its poisonous properties, its root being said to contain the most dangerous vegetable-poison native to our country and to have been frequently confounded with that of the edible sweet Cicely with fatal results.