How to get rid of water hemlock

Asked September 2, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

I have water hemlock growing along our irrigation ditch. In researching this, I find notes as benign as "don't worry about it" to "I wouldn't be within 10 miles of it". I have horses nearby, but there isn't any in the area they pasture in. Please help. I would like to know how dangerous this plant is as well as how to get rid of it. Thank you. Lisa

Deschutes County Oregon

1 Response

Lisa,Water hemlock is indeed extremely poisonous to humans and livestock. Unfortunately, irrigation ditches help disperse the seed and are a perfect place for weed establishment. Irrigation districts usually have rules about applying pesticides around the ditches so you need to contact yours for those rules. Here is a link to a great publication about both poison hemlock and water hemlock. can also google search PNW Weed Management Handbook. When you bring that up go to "problem weeds". Page w-40 will tell you about chemical control methods. If you choose to dig out any water hemlock be sure to wear water proof gloves, and eye glasses or a face shield along with water proof boots. Bag up all weed parts, tie the bag and place in the trash. Do not compost these weed parts.Keep your horses clear of any area with water hemlock.