Plant ID forum: Not elderberry, but what?

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 11:02 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

This is growing in my bottomland and is blooming at the exact same time as the elderberries, but it's a very different plant from the elderberries.

Does anyone have any ideas? Maybe a different species of elderberry than S. nigra?


[Last edited by dave - Jun 7, 2012 11:02 AM (+)]
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Name: Monica
Texas Gulf Coast (Zone 9b)
Sweat Weather, Not Sweater Weather
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krancmm
Jun 7, 2012 11:26 AM CST
Hope I'm wrong, but it looks like Water Hemlock (Cicuta mexicana) to me. Often mistaken for elderberry. http://sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Water_Hemlock/waterhemlock.htm

Monica
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jun 7, 2012 11:34 AM CST
It sure looks like Water Hemlock! Another possibility may be Cicuta maculata?: http://essmextension.tamu.edu/plants/plant/spotted-water-hem...
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[Last edited by plantladylin - Jun 7, 2012 11:57 AM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 11:39 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

When I saw it, something in the back of my mind said "water hemlock" but I didn't want to believe it. It's at the edge of my hay meadow. Grumbling

Well, looking at the photos online, I am certain we have a positive id here. Thank you!
Name: Monica
Texas Gulf Coast (Zone 9b)
Sweat Weather, Not Sweater Weather
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Gulf Coast Multi-Region Gardener Seed Starter
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krancmm
Jun 7, 2012 11:46 AM CST
Oh man, sorry we were right. Thumbs down Very scary plant, especially around livestock or children.
Monica
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 11:50 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Happily this is 1/3 of a mile from our house in an area where nobody ever really visits but still... I don't like using roundup but I might make an exception on this one.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 11:52 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

You are both right, BTW. C. mexicana is a synonym of Cicuta maculata.

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2720743
http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2720736
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jun 7, 2012 12:08 PM CST
Monica: Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up You are a true asset to this site, and I thank you for sharing your knowledge and for always being so helpful!


Dave: It sure is a Beautiful ... but unfortunately Sad a deadly plant.

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 7, 2012 3:01 PM CST

Moderator

Just my two cents, but Water Hemlock is a native plant and is only really dangerous if you ingest it. It's not particularly unique in that regard, many common plants naturally contain toxic chemicals. Tomato leaves, for example, contain a variety of poisonous alkaloids. At least one person is known to have died from drinking tea made of tomato leaves. Water Hemlock is obviously far more toxic than tomato leaves, but the number of people who have been killed by Water Hemlock in modern times is about the same as the number killed by tomato leaves (statistically zero). A century or so ago, it wasn't super uncommon for children to be killed by Water Hemlock because they used the hollow stems as straws, but when is the last time you saw a kid make a straw out of any kind of plant?

Livestock avoid eating Water Hemlock and most cases of livestock deaths are the result of husbandry problems (i.e. overgrazing a pasture to the point where the hemlock is the only thing left to eat). I used to manage about 10,000 acres of native wet meadows, primarily with a combination of prescribed fire and cattle grazing, and most of the pastures had Water Hemlock in them. We never lost any livestock to hemlock. For that matter, whenever we did wetland restoration projects, we'd hand harvest seed from Water Hemlock and include it in the seed mix. If nothing else, it's a great butterfly plant.

You probably know this already, Dave, but if you do decide to spray it, be careful with your livestock for a few weeks afterward. Plants often become much more attractive to grazing animals after they've been sprayed with a herbicide.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 4:16 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Those are great points, Kent. I'll leave the plant alone then.

I'm curious why you would intentionally include seeds from this in your mixture. Was it just to increase diversity of plants?
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 7, 2012 5:05 PM CST

Moderator

We were trying recreate native wet meadows (wet mesic prairies), usually on land that had previously been converted to cropland. That's probably a multi-century process, but we believed that one of the first steps was to reintroduce as much of the native plant community as possible. So, for any given restoration project, we'd hand collect seed from 150 - 250 species of native plants from nearby native meadows. We'd also use a combine to harvest seed from the most abundant grass species like big bluestem and indiangrass. Again, we only harvested seed from the local area.

The area I was working in had some really nice big native prairies remnants, but they had been separated from each other by a century's worth of agricultural development. We used the restorations as a means of reconnecting the native sites. The restorations are not "real" wet meadows, but they do provide valuable ecological functions and often allow for improved pasture management options.
[Last edited by KentPfeiffer - Jun 7, 2012 5:14 PM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jun 7, 2012 7:10 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Fascinating work, Kent!
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jun 8, 2012 3:11 PM CST
Valuable information, too, Kent.
Thank you.

Not many plants scare me but I've always held a deep respect for those that are toxic; knowing they have their place in ecology. I'm constantly learning just what that place is. Thanks again.
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