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Water Hemlock-the Danger in the Water
Sunday, June 4, 2023


Water hemlock, which can be found growing along small ditches and in wet meadows in the Wood River Valley, is considered the most violently toxic plant growing in North America.

Learn about this plant and how cicutoxin—the poison found in water hemlock—messes with the central nervous system when forensic chemist Cat Helms presents another in her series of discussions called “Pick Your Poison.”

The free presentation will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Town Center West, 116 S. River St., in Hailey.

“Water hemlock is a lovely, delicate plant that looks and smells like a carrot,” said Kristin Fletcher, the library’s programs and engagement manager. “Unfortunately, all parts of the plant are poisonous, a combination that makes it incredibly dangerous, especially to kids attracted to its hollow stems as a plaything.  It can be easily confused with a number of edible and medicinal plants, but this is one species you don’t want to mess with.”

Helms has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and a BS in Forensic Chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also received a Master of science degree in Molecular Medicine from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

She is the founder of Cat Does Science, which provides academic support in math and science for middle and high school students.


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