As you're pulling weeds out of your yard or driveway this summer, there's one in Iowa you need to watch out for.

I don't know much about plants, but I do know that some of the most beautiful plants and animals in nature can also be the most poisonous and that's the case for one common weed in Iowa.

And what makes it even worse is that this particular weed could be popping up around your house.


Meet The Pretty Weed You Don't Want To Meet

The poisonous weed that is widespread in Illinois and also common in Iowa is called poison hemlock. It has beautiful white rosettes and looks like this when it's in bloom:

According to Iowa State University, poison hemlock plants in Iowa can get huge, up to 2 feet in diameter. Stems of poison hemlock have purple splotches and without the white rosettes, the sprouts kinda look like fern leaves.

Touching This Stuff Can Kill You

You could encounter poison hemlock in many places. It likes areas of full sunlight, so on the roadside, while you're on a hike, or anywhere that's particularly sunny. All parts of poison hemlock can be fatal. I don't think I'd even look at the stuff. And of course, it could kill any pets or livestock that you have around that might accidentally graze on it too.

Earlier this summer, I saw a Facebook post about a woman who picked poison hemlock with her bare hands and almost died from handling it. It gets in your system and kills by respiratory arrest and heart failure. There's a reason ancient Greeks used the weed for executions. At the very least, the stuff can give you a nasty rash.

What Do I Do About It Then?

If it's in your yard, don't just pull it like you would any weed. It's not recommended that you take a mower or weed wacker to it either. Put on thick gloves, a long-sleeve shirt and pants, and dig down to totally uproot it. 

If you've been exposed to poison hemlock, you need to get help immediately. You can call 911 or the Iowa Poison Center Helpline (800-222-1222) or go to the hospital.

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