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Cicuta maculata

(Common Water Hemlock)


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Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in English:

Common Water Hemlock, beaver poison, musquash root, Musquash-Root, Poison Parsnip, Spotted Cowbane, Spotted Parsley, Spotted Water Hemlock, Spotted Water-Hemlock, Spotted Waterhemlock, Water Hemlock, Water-Hemlock

Common Names in French:

carotte à Moreau, Cicutaire Macul, cicutaire maculée

Common Names in unspecified:

Spotted Water Hemlock


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Family Apiaceae

Herbs, annual or perennial , rarely woody at base . Caulescent or acaulescent , stem hollow or solid. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or basal; petiole usually sheathing at base; stipules absent (except in subfam. Hydrocotyloideae) ; leaf blade compound or sometimes simple , usually much incised or divided , pinnatifid to pinnatisect , or ternate-pinnately decompound . Flowers epigynous , small, bisexual or staminate (unisexual male), regular, in simple or compound umbels; umbellules few to many-flowered; rays often subtended by bracts forming a involucre; umbellules (sometimes called umbellets ) usually subtended by bracteoles forming an involucel . Pedicels long, short or obsolete (then forming a capitate umbellule) . Calyx tube wholly adnate to the ovary; calyx teeth (sometimes called sepals) small or obsolete, forming a ring around the top of the ovary. Ovary inferior, 2-celled, with one anatropous ovule in each locule. Styles 2, usually swollen at the base forming a stylopodium which often secretes nectar. Fruit dry, of two mericarps united by their faces (commissure ), and usually attached to a central axis (carpophore), from which the mericarps separate at maturity; mericarps are variously flattened dorsally , laterally or terete ; each mericarp has 5 primary ribs , one down the back (dorsal rib), two on the edges near the commissure (lateral ribs ), and two between the dorsal and lateral ribs (intermediate ribs), occasionally with four secondary ribs alternating with the primary , the ribs filiform to broadly winged , thin or corky; vittae (oil-tubes) usually present in the furrow (intervals between the ribs sometimes called the valleculae) and on the commissure face, rarely also in the pericarp, sometimes obscure . Each mericarp 1-seeded, splitting apart at maturity. Seed face (commissural albumen) plane , concave to sulcate .

Between 250 and 440( 455) genera and 3300 3700 species: widely distributed in the temperate zone of both hemispheres, mainly in Eurasia and especially in C Asia; 100 genera (ten endemic) and 614 species (340 endemic) in China.[1]

Genus Cicuta

Herbs, perennial , stout, glabrous . Rootstock swollen, with transverse air chambers , roots fascicled. Stems tall, erect , hollow, branched above, striate . Leaves petiolate , sheath narrow, clasping , membranous; leaf blade (1 ) 2 3-pinnate; ultimate segments narrow, linear-lanceolate or lanceolate, serrate or dentate . Umbels compound , lax , terminal or lateral ; bracts absent or few, inconspicuous; rays numerous , long, slender, ascending-spreading; bracteoles numerous, narrow, longer or shorter than the flowers. Calyx teeth conspicuous , ovate-triangular. Petals white or greenish-white, obovate or suborbicular , apex narrow, inflexed . Stylopodium depressed ; styles slender, reflexed when mature . Fruit ovoid-globose, rounded at both ends or base cordate, flattened laterally, glabrous; ribs 5, thick, corky; vittae 1 in each furrow, 2 on commissure . Seed face plane or slightly concave . Carpophore 2-fid.

About three species: N temperate zone; one species in China.[2]

Physical Description

Flowers: Bloom Period: June. • Flower Color: near white, white


Size: 36-48" tall.


Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,716 meters (0 to 8,911 feet).[3]


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Culture: Space 6-9" apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 7.6 • Maximum pH: 7.8

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)


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Cicuta Virosa Maculata


Publishing author : L. Publication : Sp. Pl. 1: 256 1753 [1 May 1753]

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Cicuta

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 9 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

C. bulbifera (Bulb Waterhemlock) · C. douglasii (Douglas Waterhemlock) · C. maculata (Common Water Hemlock) · C. maculata var. angustifolia (Spotted Water Hemlock) · C. maculata var. bolanderi (Spotted Water Hemlock) · C. maculata var. maculata (Spotted Water-Hemlock) · C. maculata var. victorinii (Spotted Water Hemlock) · C. victorinii (Spotted Water Hemlock) · C. virosa (Mackenzie's Water Hemlock)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 19, 2007:



  1. Menglan She, Fading Pu, Zehui Pan, Mark Watson, John F. M. Cannon, Ingrid Holmes-Smith, Eugene V. Kljuykov, Loy R. Phillippe & Michael G. Pimenov "Apiaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 14 Page 1. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Du Qin Shu "Cicuta". in Flora of China Vol. 14 Page 77. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  3. Mean = 320.050 meters (1,050.033 feet), Standard Deviation = 348.490 based on 1,039 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30