Hemlock, or Conium, L. a genus of plants comprising five species ; one of which is a native of Britain, namely, the maculatum, Common Hemlock ; or Kex, a bi-ennial plant, growing in hedges, orchards, rubbish, on cultivated ground and dunghills; it flowers in the months of June and July. Its stalk is more than a yard high, sometimes an inch thick, hollow, marked with many dark-red spots, and knotty; its umbels consist of numerous small white flowers, and the fruit resembles aniseed, but has an unpleasant taste- The whole plant is poisonous; though its leaves were formerly often employed in schirrous tumors of the breast, and cancers ; in which painful disorder, though it may not in every case effect a cure, it is a very useful medicine, when duly prepared and administered.
As the Common Hemlock, however, is one of the most deleterious vegetables of this climate, we ad-vise the reader to refrain from meddling with this precarious medicine, and to intrust its preparation to professional hands. If inad-vertently taken, this species, as well as the two following kinds of the Hemlock, require similar antidotes and treatment with the Helle bore, of* which we have treated in the preceding article.
Water Hemlock, the Water, Phel-landrium, L. a genus of plants consisting of two species, one of which, the aquaticum, Water Hemlock, or Horse-bane, is a native of Britain. It grows in rivers, ditches, and pools; and flowers in the months of June and July. This species is eaten by horses, sheep, and goats, but swine do not relish it, and it is totally refused by cows. It is considered as a fatal poison to horses, which on eating it become paralytic : this affection is occasioned by an insect called cul paraplecticus, which is generally found within its stems; the usual antidote is the dung of pigs, which ought to be given to the animal as early as possible.
Long-Leaved Wave Hemlock, or Water Cow-bane, Cicuta virosa, L. is an indigenous perennial plant, growing on the sides of pools and rivers ; flowering in the month of August. - It is likewise one of the most virulent vegetable poisons ; its root is large, hollow, and contains a very acrid milky juice that soon changes to a saffron-col our, and has a nauseous taste, somewhat similar to that of parsnip : the stem attains a height of four feet. - Early in the spring, when it grows in the water, it is frequenty eaten by cows, which are inevitably killed by it; but, as the summer advances, its scent becomes stronger, and they carefully avoid it. Yet, though it is thus fatal to cows, it is eaten with safety by horses, sheep, and goats, which last devour it with avidity.