I found this growing in my raised garden, where I had tomatoes, basil and geraniums last year. It's approximately 2'X2' right now and growing. It resembles parsley.

Click on photo for full size mystery plant

Volunteer plant that resembles flat-leaf parsley - and has a sibling, although a brighter green!

  • There's a flower spike in the middle of the plant that doesn't look like parsley. Another Q&A on the site that might help (or even be a duplicate) is: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/7613/…
    – Niall C.
    May 11, 2014 at 19:25
  • I've had this plant pop up in my garden before. I don't know what it is, but it is vigorous and hard to pull!
    – michelle
    May 13, 2014 at 13:03

5 Answers 5


Friends, after researching your suggestions/answers, and taking some more additional pix, I've come to the conclusion that this is most likely poison hemlock (http://www.ars.usda.gov/services/docs.htm?docid=9975). As you can see from the additional pix I snapped today, it has smooth hollow stalks with purple blotches and no hairs on it's stems and now has many flower heads on the flower spike. How it arrived in my organic garden, one can only guess...perhaps through a bird dropping? In any case, it will be eradicated this weekend (precariously!) and destroyed (http://homeguides.sfgate.com/kill-hemlocks-30900.html).

It's brighter green sibling does smell like chrysanthemums when crushing the leaves, so perhaps it is feverfew, but due to the close proximity to the poison hemlock, it will likely get pulled, as well. Question: can I now safely plant/consume my organic vegetables in this space, after having poison hemlock in the raised garden?

Thank-you again for all your educated responses! I shudder to think what would've happened had we consumed this 'parsley'! enter image description here

  • Glad to hear you've settled on an ID. And, since it does appear to be poison hemlock, glad to hear you are going to be (carefully) getting rid of it!
    – TeresaMcgH
    May 20, 2014 at 2:41
  • Yes, this is poison hemlock, C maculatum: purple blotching growing more intense near the base; distinctive leaf colour, shape, and sheen; hairless stem; grooveless petioles; flower in umbels; general stature. It isn't feverfew. Hemlock can have a smell though how it's described is variable. A lot of people say "mouse urine" (I wonder what they do with their lives to know what that smells like?). It's a beautiful plant in the right place: this is the wrong place!
    – Dan
    Jul 6, 2021 at 13:23

Something in the Fumaria family. I have it too, and your post made me finally look it up. So thanks.


  • I'm adding another picture, to show that this vounteer plant has a brother, although a brighter green. Not sure if it's Giant Hogweed or the Fumaria family, but appreciate the suggestions! TIA =)
    – karen
    May 12, 2014 at 23:51

Hemlock. Poisonous. The way to tell the difference between it and flat leaf parsley is the leaves have spots and the stems are hollow on hemlock. The other thing is Hemlock has virtually no smell while parsley has a nice pungent odor.


Do the leaves for the one on the right smell like crysanthemums when they are crushed? If so, this is probably Feverfew - Crysanthemum parthenium . When it blooms, if you haven't already removed it, post another picture and we can confirm. Feverfew has groups of small white flowers. It is benign (except it can spread where it is "happy") often perennial, and some folks use it for medicinal purposes.

The plant on the left is definitely an umbellifera - that is, it is a plant in the carrot and parsley family. You can tell by the leaves, and the way they join to the stem, by clasping around it and forming a sort of swollen node. It looks to be close to blooming, too - the main stem's internodes are beginning to lengthen into a blooming stalk. The problem here is, members of this family can be very difficult to tell from one another, even for experienced gardeners and outdoors folk, but I agree this is NOT parsley. My concern is it may be hemlock, which is poisonous, and also an invasive weed. Here is a picture and an identification page for poison hemlock. Have a look and see if you agree it looks similar. If you do agree, I'd definitely get rid of it now, before it blooms, and dispose of it in a way that pets, livestock and kids can't get to it.

Giant Hogweed has much broader leaves, so I don't believe that is the correct ID. If you ever do find any, btw, you may need to call the county to come pull it for you, as contact with any part of the plant's juices causes SEVERE dermatitis and, if you accidentally rub any in your eyes, blindness.


After seeing the purple blotches on the stems I can also confirm poison hemlock. That's a cool, but pretty wicked plant! One of the most deadly in North America. People don't often confuse it with parsley, but sometimes confuse it with queen Ann's lace. Not a good mistake to make either way. It can be deadly in pretty small quantities.

Remove the plant. Be cautious about not eating small parley like seedlings and you'll be fine. I actually had a garden once where poison hemlock was a pretty common weed visitor. The chemicals will not transmit through the soil to your next plants so no need to worry.

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