After a wet spring through April and May, June's heat has cranked up the growth of the plant that killed the father of western philosophy. Poison Hemlock, and cases of sickness from it, are on the rise in Oklahoma.

From its home in Mediterranian Europe and North Africa, this poisonous and invasive weed of a plant has spread across the globe. Oklahoma is one of the more recent new areas it has been found, and it's creating havoc for ranchers and outdoor lovers all the same.

Poison Hemlock is a type of wild carrot. Most people that come into contact with it usually confuse it with Queen Anne's Lace. They're loosely related but entirely different when it comes to consumption. You see, people like to batter and fry Queen Anne's Lace as a delicacy, 'Merica... while consuming Poison Hemlock almost always ends in death.

Sundry Photography
Sundry Photography

Similarly, touching either of these similar-looking plants can have a very negative effect on the individual. Queen Anne's Lace can create a painful reaction on the skin whereas touching Poison Hemlock can make a person physically sick or worse.

These poisonous plants can grow up to eight feet tall and each individual plant can easily produce 50,000 seeds each year. As hard as the Oklahoma wind blows, it's easy to see how this plant has spread across the plains so fast.

While it seems simple enough to avoid, it's animals that suffer the deadly consequences of Poison Hemlock in Oklahoma. As they grow in pastures and along water sources, they're seen as just another green source of food. Many animals ingest it, it's not just cattle and horses that suffer the Hemlock fate. There's even a case of a cat dying from eating this plant. It's as tragic as it is nature.

While all parents should encourage their kids to be outside enjoying some old-school fun this summer, it's worth the effort to be vigilant of this silent killer.

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