The toxic Western Water Hemlock has been confirmed in pastures in Glacier county and is prolific where found.
Ranchers, please be aware that this plant is very toxic to livestock and humans. Cattle will eat this plant if other forage is scarce and when the plant is in its green seeding stage (this is its current stage).
How to ID
Stem: It can be solid green or red tinted especially at the joints.
Leaf: The leaf is lance shaped with narrow teeth along its edges. The vein that runs from the middle of the leaf extends to the notch between the leaf’s teeth.
Roots: The tubers of the western water hemlock have chambers which contain the toxins.
Flowers: They are small, white, and in umbrella shaped clusters.
Treatment: It is suggested that you eliminate the infestation and avoiding grazing the infested area until the plants are removed. Hand pulling with gloves and discarding the plants in garbage bags is an effective way to remove water hemlock. Actively growing plants can be controlled with 2,4-D herbicide applied at the rate of 1 kg per acre of acid equivalent but will be more attractive to animals once sprayed.
If you have questions about how to manage or identify plant species growing in your fields, you can contact the Montana State University Glacier County Extension Agent at (406) 873-2239.