Dogs can come into contact with many noxious substances, especially when they spend a bit of time outside when plant growth is in full bloom. One wildflower to keep your dog away from is Queen Anne's Lace, a dainty flower that can cause skin irritation. But a lookalike plant, hemlock, is even worse. It's deadly.
Queen Anne's Lace
Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is an invasive plant sometimes referred to as wild carrot. Queen Anne's lace blooms consist of clusters of tiny white flowers shaped like umbrellas; the stems have purple or red hearts in the centers of the blooms. While not poisonous, this plant's Velcrolike seeds can stick on your dog's coat and burrow into the skin, causing irritation and inflammation, especially if aggravated by sun exposure.
Hemlock (Conium) is a highly poisonous perennial plant that can be confused with Queen Anne's Lace. Ingesting even a small dose of this plant can cause a person or animal to suffer respiratory collapse and death. Neither people nor animals should touch or breath in the pollen. Like Queen Anne's lace, hemlock is found in dry meadows, along roadsides and in other uncultivated places.
How to Differentiate
The best way to identify Queen Anne's lace from the deadly hemlock is to look at the plants' stems. The hemlock stem will have no hairs -- stems will be smooth, with purple or black spots or streaks -- while the stems on Queen Anne's lace are hairy and solid green. Hemlock will have no hair on its leaves.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.