An erect foetid annual, biennial or monocarpic perennial, native in damp ground, ditches, roadsides, hedgerows and waste ground. Hemlock is common throughout most of Britain. It is not recorded above 1,000 ft. It may be a pasture weed and also infests cereals, vegetable crops and orchards in many countries. In southern England in 1985, it was found in 3% of winter oilseed rape crops surveyed. Plants establish readily on disturbed sites and are highly competitive with other vegetation.
Hemlock is also toxic to man but many medicinal and therapeutic uses are listed for the plant.
In a 5-year study, seeds sown in the field and stirred periodically emerged mainly from January to April and July to September. Most seedlings emerged in the first 12 months after sowing with odd seedling emerging until year 5 when a few viable seeds still remained in the soil. The plant develops a long white taproot.
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