Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Warning About Poison Hemlock

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has become more abundant over the past few years. I am seeing it all along the roadsides here in Centre County now.

It is a biennial, which means the first year of growth ends with a low growing (basal) rosette of foliage. During the second year, the stem, branches and flowers are produced. Poison hemlock can reach up to 6 feet in height. The white flowers are produced throughout the summer from June into August. Individual flowers are small but clustered in an umbrella-like grouping, which makes them noticeable. The plants overall appearance resembles carrot and parsley.

As the plant puts on vertical growth, the stem develops purple spots, which are very distinctive. This plant is not only a landscape weed, and sometimes along the banks of water bodies and in meadows, it also has some health issues that should be kept in mind. All parts of poison hemlock are toxic to humans and other animals. The roots and seeds contain the highest concentration of alkaloids.

Poison hemlock has a long tap root (10 inches) and extensive fibrous roots. Hand removal is difficult because of the tough root system and the fact that the plant sap is, along with being toxic, a skin irritant. Even the use of weed trimmers needs to be conducted using precautions so that plant material doesn't come into contact with the body. There are no pre-emergent herbicides to use against poison hemlock in ornamental settings. Post-emergents include: diquat, pelargonic acid, glyphosate (all are non-selective), and 2,4-D. The most effective approach is to treat the 1st year rosettes and not the larger, mature plant.

State foresters warning about poisonous plant growing rampant in Pennsylvania

Fox 43 News
June 19, 2018
FERMANAGH TOWNSHIP, JUNIATA COUNTY, Pa. -- Foresters with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are warning about a poisonous plant growing throughout Pennsylvania. It’s called Poison Hemlock, and it can be dangerous. 

According to the USDA, Poison hemlock contains eight known alkaloids, including coniine and coniceine that are extremely toxic to humans, livestock, and wildlife. Foresters say people have mistaken its roots for wild carrot; if ingested, it can cause death.

It's tall, it flowers, and bugs seem to like it, but if you touch Poison Hemlock, it won’t be pretty.
“Just by grabbing on it, pulling on it, you can have severe reactions, and we definitely don’t want people eating it, ingesting it… like livestock, animals, because it can cause death," said Lucas Book, a state forester, covering Juniata and Perry Counties.

Book says the plant is growing rampant throughout the state this year, colonizing along roadways and other ungroomed spots. FOX43 found a thick growth of plants off Route 35 in Fermanagh Township, Juniata County.

It’s commonly mistaken for other plants, and some people have never heard of it or its harmful effects. "This plant is in the carrot family; it actually looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace," stated Book. It's different from Queen Anne's Lace, though, because of its hollow, purple spotted stems. People can recognize Poison Hemlock by its small, white flowers, developing into white umbrella shaped clusters.

If someone notices the plant growing, Book says its best to spray a herbicide, mow it down, or pull it out of the ground - just make sure you’re dressed appropriately. “I used to weed whack in shorts, and I only did that once or twice until I realized that was stupid; if you want to mow this, you’re going to want to wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves," he laughed.

An employee at Spangler's Ace Hardware located at 4072 Carlisle Rd in Dover, York County recommends doing a bit of reading up on the plant. “This is not, you go to your local hardware store, you buy something and spray on it, you go home and go about your day. You have to do your research to find out what stage the hemlock is in before you can control it," said Jerry Frey, a salesman. The Plant's stage will determine which herbicide will work best. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Wolf Administration Names New Pennsylvania State Forester

Harrisburg, PA – A veteran of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s Bureau of Forestry has been appointed state forester and will serve as director of the bureau.

Ellen Shultzabarger
Ellen M. Shultzabarger, who has worked for 14 years in various positions in the Bureau of Forestry, begins as the bureau director starting today.

“The director plays a critical role in the daily operations of the Bureau of Forestry, a vital role as state forester in national forest management issues, and also is an integral part of the leadership team of the department,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “In Ellen, we have found someone with proven leadership abilities, a vision for the bureau and the department, and a strong natural science background.  She is a strong communicator, respected among her colleagues and works in a collaborative way to achieve the goals of the bureau and further the mission of the agency.”

Shultzabarger, 41, takes over the reins of Pennsylvania’s state forest system -- one of the largest in the nation that is certified as well managed to ensure its future health.

The DCNR Bureau of Forestry manages 2.2 million acres of state forestland, conserves native wild plants, and promotes stewardship of all of the commonwealth’s forest resources for values including sustained yields of timber; clean water; plant and wildlife biodiversity and habitat; and wild character.

Some of the opportunities and challenges facing Pennsylvania’s forests and the bureau in the coming years include addressing the impacts of invasive species and diseases; stewardship of private forest lands; assessing recreational needs and opportunities; managing activities related to energy and rights-of-ways; adaptation planning for future climate change; and elevating the values of forests and trees.

Shultzabarger is the first woman to hold the position of state forester and bureau director since the creation about 125 years ago of what is now the DCNR Bureau of Forestry.

“I am truly excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead a talented group of forestry and natural resources professionals to sustainably manage the forests of Pennsylvania to assure long-term viability of working forests, both public and private,” Shultzabarger said. “I will strive to connect people to the outdoors, manage the state forests entrusted to us, and increase awareness of the importance and benefits of trees and forests.”

Shultzabarger has worked for the bureau in a variety of positions, with the most recent being the Chief of Conservation Science and Ecological Resources. During her tenure at DCNR, she has led a number of highly visible projects that span all aspects of its work, including oil and gas management; restoration and monitoring; wildlife management; invasive species; and recreation planning.
Before beginning work for DCNR in 2004, Shultzabarger served with the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife, Tufts University and several local and national non-profit conservation organizations.

Shultzabarger graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources. She also received a graduate certification in Urban Environmental Planning and Policy from Tufts University.

Shultzabarger lives in Lancaster with her husband Brian and their two children.

For more information on the DCNR Bureau of Forestry or Pennsylvania’s 2.2-million acre state forest system, visit the DCNR website at

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