- Hemlock (Conium Maculatum):
- translation: whirl about; spotted.
synonyms: False Parsley, Poison Parsley, Herb Bennet, Spotted Corobane, Musquash Root, Beaver Poison, Poison Hemlock, Spotted Hemlock, Kex, Kecksies.
definition: you will be my death.
The Ancients were familiar with Hemlock, which is mentioned in early Greek literature. The juice of Hemlock was frequently administered to criminals, and this was the fatal poison Socrates was condemned to drink. The generic name of Conium was the classical Greek name, and was derived from the Greek word Konas, meaning to whirl about, because the plant, when eaten, causes vertigo, and death. The Latin Maculatum means spotted, and refers to the purple-red stem markings, which according to an old English legend represent the brand put on Cain's brow after he commited the first murder. All parts of the plant are poisonous, though it is stated to be less strong in the root. Poisoning has occured from eating the leaves as parsley, the roots as parsnips, and the seeds as anise seeds. Many children have suffered by using whistles made from the hollow stem of Hemlock. Certain animals however, can eat Hemlock with impunity, though they may in turn contain enough of the poison to poison whoever eats them. Donkeys having eaten hemlock will often fall into a deep sleep, so deep in fact that they are thought by their owners to be dead, and have their skins flayed off, yet they awaken after the plant has gone through their system. In poisonous doses Hemlock produces complete paralysis and loss of speech, and depressed respiratory function that ultimately ceases altogether, death results from asphyxia. The mind remains unaffected to the last. In case of poisoning by Hemlock, the antidotes are tannic acid, stimulants and coffee, emetics of zinc, or mustard and castor oil, and, if necessary, artificial respiration. It is essential to keep up the temperature of the body. Like many other poisonous plants, Hemlock loses much of its poisonous properties when cut and dried, and cooking entirely destroys them. Its disagreeable odour has prevented its fatal use as a vegetable in its raw state. Hemlock is one of the four classic poisons, along with Deadly Nightshade, Aconite, and Hellebore.
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