Community Fair Spotlight: King County Noxious Weed Program

**Since we were unable to hold the Community Fair part of the KCD Plant Sale this year, we moved it online to highlight and share the incredible work and services our community partners provide.

King County Noxious Weed Control Program serves King County to prevent and reduce noxious weeds in our backyard through education and technical assistance. What is a noxious weed, you ask? A noxious weed is a weed harmful to people, the environment and/or agriculture.

It’s poison-hemlock season. Do you know how to recognize it? Poison-hemlock is toxic and can be deadly to people and animals if eaten. It can be especially dangerous because poison-hemlock is in the carrot family and resembles edible plants like wild carrot or parsley. A good way to tell poison-hemlock apart from those similar plants is to look at the stem. Poison-hemlock has red or purple splotches on the stem and is generally hairless. It also has a distinct, unpleasant musty smell if cut or crushed. First year plants grow in low clumps. Second year plants send up a flower stalk in April through June that can be 8′ tall with umbels of tiny white flowers.

King County Noxious Weeds Coloring Book
A coloring book with original drawings and educational information about noxious weeds found in King County, Washington

If you find this plant you can help get rid of it! Digging out the long carrot-like taproot and disposing the plants in the trash before they go to seed is an excellent control method. Just be sure to wear long sleeves, pants and gloves when working with poison-hemlock. The sap can cause skin irritation in some people. Just don’t weed whack or mow this plant because doing that can release the poison into the air where it can be breathed into your lungs and make you feel quite unwell.

If you have questions about poison-hemlock or want to report locations on public lands or rights of way, where it is required to be controlled, contact King County Noxious Weed Control Program’s Marta Olson by e-mail at

Visit for more information about poison-hemlock and many other weeds.

Also, do you need a fun, educational kids activity? Get to know your noxious weeds by downloading the King County Noxious Weeds Coloring Book!

Natalie Quist, AmeriCorps Projects Coordinator, Community Agriculture and Engagement

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