Name: Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
Also Known As: Poison Hemlock, Devil’s Bread, Beaver Poison, or Poison Parsley
Found in: Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Hemlock grows near streams and pools of standing water, especially along the borders of pastures and cropland.
This toxin disrupts messages between the nervous system and the muscles, causing “ascending muscular paralysis.” Within hours after consumption the heartbeat slows, and paralysis begins in the lower legs, moving up to the waist and lungs. The mind remains alert until death is very near.
Poison Plus: In 339 BC, after being accused of corrupting young Athenians with his radical ideas, the philosopher Socrates was sentenced to the death penalty—a cupful of poison hemlock.
Learn more in The Power of Poison.