Washoe County Announcement

Washoe County Warns of Poison Hemlock and other Noxious Weeds
Be Aware: Poisonous weeds don’t have to be a thorn in your side

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo

Reno, Nev. May 22, 2017. As summer weather brings out more people exploring parks and trails, it also brings some blooming native plants that should be avoided. Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space is advising the public to be aware of poison hemlock growing throughout the Truckee Meadows.

“We work annually to keep the public safe from dozens of naturally growing noxious weeds throughout the county,” says Colleen Wallace Barnum, Washoe County Parks Operations Superintendent. “With the unusually heavy precipitation this year, poison hemlock has grown abnormally tall.” Poison hemlock, like many noxious weeds, is poisonous upon ingestion and can be misidentified as wild parsley or wild carrot. Washoe County would like to make the public aware of noxious weeds, specifically poison hemlock, to keep both people and pets safe.

(Photos of poison hemlock growing at Dorostkar Park, below)    


Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space is urging the public to stay safe by being aware of the following tips:

• Poison hemlock grows naturally, mainly in moist areas so along the Truckee River, or along ditches and creeks.

• All parts of the poison hemlock plant are poisonous upon ingestion.  Please stay away from it and please do not ingest any plants you find growing natively in any parks or trails.

• You cannot be poisoned by the fumes, it is poisonous upon ingestion.

• Washoe County does have plans to remove the weed from high traffic public areas, mechanically with a piece of equipment and/or digging it up and removing it by hand.

• Washoe County uses various methods of weed removal in parks.  Currently, the county has sheep grazing in Arrowcreek Open Space to remove several noxious weeds in that area.  We have used goats in the past at parks such as Anderson Park.

• If ingested, call Poison Control immediately at (800) 222-1222.

Washoe County Regional Animal Services would like to help keep pets safe at our parks by making the public aware of the following tips:

• Keep your dogs on a leash and in your control.

• Do not allow your pet to ingest plants, bugs or other objects that could be toxic.

• Be aware of types of toxic plants and what they look like.

Signs of pet poisoning can present as:

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Seizures

• Loss of appetite

• Abnormal behavior

• Weakness and lethargy

• Dilated pupils

• Drooling

Finally, if you suspect that your pet may have ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately.  If you area able to obtain a sample of the potentially toxic substance, bring that with you to your veterinarian.

Below is a list of the noxious weeds native to the area that Washoe County regularly attempts to control:

• Diffuse Knapweed

• Spotted Knapweed

• Russian Knapweed

• Medusahead

• Puncturevine

• Scotch Thistle

• Musk Thistle

• Yellowstar Thistle

• Canada Thistle

• Poison Hemlock

• Hoary Cress (small white top)

• Perennial Pepperweed (tall white top)

• Purple loosestrife

Additional resource with UNR’s Cooperative Extension Natural Resources Programs: http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/natural/index.asp?ID=141