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Old 05-14-2012, 09:49 AM
 
286 posts, read 1,250,003 times
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My in-laws live in the middle of Northwest Illinois, near Iowa, on 20 acres. Most of their land is natural habitat / non-farmed land / wet-land (technically) and have numerous grasses, shrubs, and trees growing. Some of them are poisonous (such as Hemlock) on their land, so any time a new plant is found, caution is taken until we can identify it. We do like to cut paths around the property so we can take walks around it and enjoy nature. But - until we find out what this is, we don't want to touch it.

It was mostly found along a river bed, until the property flooded in 6" of rain and turned the area into a swamp. Since then, this plant has multiplied into areas it hasn't been before and seems to be growing in numbers. They've been spotted growing up to 6 or 7 feet tall, with a bulbous bloom at the top. We call it Seymore since it looks like it's out of Little Shop of Horrors.

Seems to grow in a stalk, which is hallow. The stalk is green in smaller plants, then turns purple. Some branches form, which grow like celery (not a branch, but more like a 'layer'). The bulb at the top can be as big as a softball, and we've only seen this one after it bloomed, with creamy-white flowers.

Does anyone have any clue what this might be? And whether or not it's poisonous?
Attached Thumbnails
ID this unknown stalk?-unknown-weed-01.jpg   ID this unknown stalk?-unknown-weed-03.jpg   ID this unknown stalk?-unknown-weed-06.jpg   ID this unknown stalk?-unknown-weed-09.jpg   ID this unknown stalk?-unknown-weed-12.jpg  

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Old 05-14-2012, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
2,778 posts, read 7,256,095 times
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Looks like water hemlock---poisonous. But it also resembles hogweed, an invasive plant that is highly toxic!! Try to get a good reliable id before you even think about touching it!
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:46 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,707,289 times
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That's a cool looking plant that is found usually near rivers and wetlands called Great Angelica. I recognize that weird stem before it blooms and your flower description.

Angelica atropurpurea

Great Angelica by Peter Gorman in Angelica, Angelica atropurpurea on Fotopedia - The Photo Encyclopedia

and this from Illinois Wildflowers: Great Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea)
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:34 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,560,764 times
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That is one crazy looking plant.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:14 PM
 
Location: denison,tx
866 posts, read 996,353 times
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don't have a clue as to what the plant is but the Extension Office or
Dept. of Agriculture may be able to help identify it and tell you how to
control it...It does have an interesting looking head/stem...
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:53 AM
 
Location: Newport, NC
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Definitely not hogweed which has gigantic leaves.
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Old 05-16-2012, 11:07 AM
 
286 posts, read 1,250,003 times
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Our first thoughts were hogweed too, but there are too many differences (albeit pretty subtle). We do have some hemlock, but not spotted water hemlock. Also very similar. I think the money shot is going to be Great Angelica. From what we've read, it's pretty spot on. Good to know that there are some strange plants that actually are edible and not poisonous! We have enough of those...

Thanks for the tips. We're looking at coordinating with the IL DNR (Natural Resources : Community Trees) to find out exactly what this is, just in case...

If anyone else has any other opinions, we're still glad to hear them.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:30 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,707,289 times
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Glad I could point you to a strong possibility. There are some plants that just leave a strong impression and that is one! Great Angelica is the only one with that exact stem and upper growth although there are Hogweeds that can look similar. The area you described it growing in also points to Angelica.

If you go to ID it, do them a big favor and not only bring pictures but bring one full set of leaves pulled or cut off very close to the main stem. Use gloves and bag it to minimize exposure for now as a precaution. Pictures can be deceptive and make ID very difficult. It's what I've had to do when people bring in things to ID and often I will go get a second and third opinion if I feel it could possibly be a toxic plant. I'm even more cautious about mushrooms.
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:45 PM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,354 posts, read 8,454,092 times
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J&Em is right on as usual...I would bet an '82 Margaux that the plant is in the angelica fam.

We have them covering any spare bit of ground up here, but it is wooded and shady most of the day. They are slightly toxic, if eaten, but the pollinators love them when the blooms go a bit south.
It drives the pollinators a bit 'crazy' due to those alkaloids...ours don't flower until August, Sept, on...
here at 5,000 ft.
GL, mD
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Old 05-22-2012, 01:54 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,707,289 times
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Thanks mD that would be an expensive bet.... but one I would not be worrying about!! LOL Some plants just stand out more than others and are easier to remember.
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