Spotted Water Hemlock

Other Common Names:

(Cicuta maculata)


Clusters of tiny white flowers grow atop this poisonous plant. Spotted water hemlock grows two to six feet tall and has compound leaves.


Spotted water hemlock grows two to six feet tall and has fleshy, fibrous roots. It branches profusely. The leaves can be triple compound, meaning there are leaflets that make up larger leaflets, and those make up larger leaflets, and they make up the entire large leaf. The entire large leaf can be a foot long and two feet wide, arranged alternately on the stem. The leaflets vary from three-fourths of an inch to nearly five inches long and two-tenths of an inch to a little more than an inch wide. They are sword shaped and have sharp teeth along the edges. The larger leaflets are egg shaped, up to one foot long and 10 inches wide. Flowers grow in large, branched cluster. They have five white petals each and are tiny.


Spotted water hemlock is dangerously poisonous and can cause death. Sometimes spotted water hemlock grows in floating mats on the water, making it look scraggly.


Spotted water hemlock can be found across the United States.