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Poison hemlock spreading across Omaha-metro

A poisonous, invasive plant is spreading across the U.S. including in the Omaha metro area.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A poisonous, invasive plant is spreading across the U.S., including the Omaha metro area.

Poison hemlock is becoming increasingly common in fields, backyards, city parks and lakes.

A 9-year-old Papillion girl was covered in hives after exposure to the plant. The girl’s mom says it happened after she touched poison hemlock at their neighborhood park.

“Her friend handed her a flower and she smelled it,” Jessica Diaz said. “So, she put the hemlock right up to her face area.”

Diaz says hives were everywhere within hours.

“After maybe about four hours her entire body was covered. Her eyes were swollen. Her tongue was a little bit swollen, and that’s when I freaked.”

Dana Freeman with the UNL Extension Office, says poison hemlock is most poisonous when eaten. Some people may develop contact dermatitis from touching it.

“It seems to have become more common and this year right now it’s starting to flower so people are noticing it,” Freeman said.

Freeman says if the plant is in your yard, dig it out while wearing protective equipment, then put it in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash.

Poison hemlock is also popping up in public areas like the Monarch Place Park in Papillion.

A spokesperson for the City of Papillion says poison hemlock is not considered a noxious weed.

Its effects are similar to poison oak or poison ivy.

The plant is also good for the bee population, so they don’t want to eliminate it.

Diaz still wants to get the word out, so that what happened to her daughter doesn’t happen to anyone else. Doctors treated the girl with Benadryl and she fully recovered, after a few scary days and nights.

“It took four days total to be completely done,” Diaz said. “But I would say about 36 hours was me being very nervous and checking on her every 30 minutes in her sleep like ‘are you still ok?’”

Poison hemlock can also be treated with a herbicide and mowed.

Plant experts say if some eats poison hemlock they should see a doctor immediately.

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