Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Spotted Water-hemlock - Cicuta maculata   L.
Members of Apiaceae:
Members of Cicuta with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Apiales » Family Apiaceae
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DistributionThroughout the state, and certainly occurring in all 100 counties.

This species has one of the widest ranges of any NC species, ranging from coast to coast and from Canada to the southern border.
AbundanceFrequent to common across the state, though seldom abundant in any locality.
HabitatThis is a requisite wetland plant of mostly sunny places, growing in marshes, bogs, ditches, wet meadows, and openings in swamps and bottomlands.
See also Habitat Account for General Wet Meadows
PhenologyBlooms from May to August, and fruits from July to September.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar, robust and tall herb, reaching about 4-5' tall, with many branches. The very large scattered alternate leaves are generally triangular in shape, but are double- or triply-divided into numerous leaflets. Each leaflet is strongly serrate on the margins, lanceolate in shape, often 3-4" long, and about 1" wide, and may have some clefts into the blades; the leaflet tip is usually acute. There are numerous umbels, each with many smaller umbellets, with small white flowers that produce a rounded crown about 3-4" across per umbel. There are quite a few somewhat similar tall umbel species with white flowers and wetland habitats, so be careful in the identification, though this is the most common tall species of wetlands east of the mountains. The very similar C. mexicana, native in the Southeast, has leaflets that are ovate, up to 3.5-5 cm (about 1.5-2") wide, as opposed to mostly lanceolate and less that 1" wide in C. maculata. C. bulbifera, which has been collected in NC but is not certain to be native here, has narrowly linear leaf segments and flowers that usually abort.
Taxonomic CommentsThere are, not surprisingly, several varieties for this broadly ranging species. The one in NC is the nominate one -- var. maculata.

Other Common Name(s)Water-hemlock, Spotted Cowbane
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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