The coniferous Hemlock trees commonly found in the northeastern United States today are not, in fact, the hemlock used as poison. That is conium, a weed, and completely unrelated.

Of course, finding this out completely ruined so many jokes from elementary school. A hemlock tree grew just outside the fence to the playground and often we nerds would corner some unsuspecting stupid bully against the chain-link and threaten to make them eat hemlock.

Hem"lock (?), n. [OE. hemeluc, humloc, AS. hemlic, hymlic.]

1. Bot.

The name of several poisonous umbelliferous herbs having finely cut leaves and small white flowers, as the Cicuta maculata, bulbifera, and virosa, and the Conium maculatum. See Conium.

⇒ The potion of hemlock administered to Socrates is by some thought to have been a decoction of Cicuta virosa, or water hemlock, by others, of Conium maculatum.

2. Bot.

An evergreen tree common in North America (Abies, ∨ Tsuga, Canadensis); hemlock spruce.

The murmuring pines and the hemlocks. Longfellow.

3.

The wood or timber of the hemlock tree.

Ground hemlock, ∨ Dwarf hemlock. See under Ground.

 

© Webster 1913.

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