"The man … laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and these were his last words — 'Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius.’ The attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes."
This is Plato describing the poisoning of his mentor Socrates. And yes, this stout specimen by the fence is, indeed, Poison Hemlock chock full of coniine which disrupts the workings of the central nervous system. Ingestion in any quantity results in respiratory collapse and death. The USDA classifies the plant as Noxious Class C meaning, “kill as much of it as you want.” Surprisingly, it’s easy to find and prolific in places. I sometimes wonder if I should tell somebody, then realize that the USDA must have this one covered.
© d100607-022 Poison Hemlock
Old Rich Valley Road
Smyth County, Virginia
Monday 7 June 2010