Conium maculatum L.

First published in Sp. Pl.: 243 (1753)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Europe to Xinjiang and W. Himalaya, N. Africa to Ethiopia. It is an annual or biennial and grows primarily in the temperate biome. It is used as a poison and a medicine, has environmental uses and for food.


Biogeografic region: Andean. Elevation range: 1500–3045 m a.s.l. Naturalised in Colombia. Colombian departments: Antioquia, Bogotá DC, Cauca, Cundinamarca.
Habitat according IUCN Habitats Classification: forest and woodland, shrubland, native grassland, wetlands (inland), artificial - terrestrial.

Umbelliferae, J. F. M. Cannon. Flora Zambesiaca 4. 1978

Morphology General Habit
Erect, glabrous biennial herb up to 2 m. with a somewhat fleshy taproot.
Morphology Stem
Stem with rather fine, regular grooving, often with irregular, characteristic purple spots, but sometimes unspotted especially in southern Africa.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves up to 35 cm. long, 2–3-pinnate, broadly ovate to deltate in outline; ultimate segments lanceolate to elliptic, deeply and coarsely divided, apices of the lobes slightly mucronate; petioles up to 10 cm. long, dilated at the base to form a conspicuous sheath.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Terminal umbels on short peduncles, overtopped by the longer-peduncled laterals. Bracts and bracteoles well developed, lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, often with a whitish margin, somewhat caducous. Umbels with up to 20 rays 2–3·5 cm. long, partial umbels with 6–15 flowers on pedicels 2–5 mm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Calyx teeth obsolete; petals white with a short inflexed tip.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit ovoid to suborbicular, somewhat laterally compressed; Stylopodium depressed; styles deflexed with somewhat swollen bases. Ribs well developed, either linear or very distinctly undulate; vittae 0; seed channelled on the inner face.

Ghazanfar, S. A. & Edmondson, J. R (Eds). (2014) Flora of Iraq, Volume 5 Part 2: Lythraceae to Campanulaceae.

Morphology General Habit
Tall but graceful biennial with a foetid odour, to 2 m
Morphology Stem
Stem very hollow, especially below, striate to lightly sulcate, purple-spotted, branching above
Morphology Leaves
Lower leaves long-petiolate, up to 60 cm broad and long, the lamina ovate or triangular-ovate in outline, delicate in appearance, tripinnatisect with narrowly lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate segments; cauline leaves diminishing in size and less dissected but also petiolate except for the uppermost
Morphology Branches
Branches opposite, umbels axillary and terminal-Involucre and involucel delicate, with broad membranous margins, often withered and not apparent at ripe fruit, of 6–7 lanceolate bracts, those of the involucel disposed unilaterally on the partial umbels
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Peduncles
Peduncles 1.5–6 cm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Main umbel of 10–18 rays, 0.5–3 cm long; partial umbels of (6–)10–25(–20) flowers of 2–3 mm in diameter, pedicels 2–7 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals obovate, the tip slightly inflexed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit broadly ovoid, 3–3.5 mm in diameter; mericarps with 5 strong pale ribs which contrast with the dark body of the fruit and are strongly crenulate in the typical plant, particularly near the apex of the fruit; styles ± 0.75 mm.
In the mountains, near water, by a stream, on the edge of a damp thicket, in Quercus forest; alt. 900–1750 m
Flowering and fruiting: Jun.–Jul.
Occasional but locally abundant, in the forest zone of Iraq. Atlantic, C & S Europe, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, C Asia, Siberia, N Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya), Macaronesia (Canary Is., Azores). Introduced into China, Australia, S Africa, C & S America and in some places subspontaneous.
Represented in Iraq by the var. leiocarpum Boiss., which has the ribs of fruit quite smooth and devoid of crenulations. Common Hemlock (Eng.), Poison Hemlock (Am.); SHAUKARĀN (Ar., Watt, Bedevian et al.). This was the State Poison of ancient Athens for the execution of criminals, so tragically used to eliminate the great philosopher Socrates, as Plato described. As Schischkin mentions, all parts of the plant, and especially the fruit, contain toxic alkaloids and in former times preparations containing these substances have been widely used to treat various diseases; but in view of side effects and the occurrence of poisoning, such preparations are no longer prescribed. The plant has a disagreeable odour in warm weather, and when dried is reminiscent of mice; its taste is sharp and bitter.

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.

Naturalizada en Colombia; Alt. 1500 - 3045 m.; Andes.
Morphology General Habit
No Evaluada

Extinction risk predictions for the world's flowering plants to support their conservation (2024). Bachman, S.P., Brown, M.J.M., Leão, T.C.C., Lughadha, E.N., Walker, B.E.

Predicted extinction risk: not threatened. Confidence: confident

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia.

cicuta, humaria, perla


Use Environmental
Environmental uses.
Use Food
Used for food.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.
Use Poisons

Common Names



  • Angiosperm Extinction Risk Predictions v1

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  • Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • Flora Zambesiaca

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  • Flora of Iraq

    • Ghazanfar, S. A., Edmondson, J. R. (Eds). (2013-2019). Flora of Iraq, Volumes 5.1, 5.2 and 6.0. Kew Publishing
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

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  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia

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