Conium maculatum, Poison hemlock, Herb bennet, Mother Die,
Hebrew: רוש עקוד, Arabic: شوكران،, شقرون

Scientific name:  Conium maculatum L.
Common name:  Poison hemlock, Herb bennet, Mother Die
Dutch name:  Gevlekte Scheerling
Hebrew name:  רוש עקוד
Arabic name:  شوكران،, شقرون
Plant Family:  Umbelliferae / Apiaceae, סוככים

wildflowers in Israel, Flowers of the Holy Land

Life form:  Hemicryptophyte
Stems:  150-250 cm tall; smooth green stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem
Leaves:  Alternate, rosette, dissected, bipinnate, dentate or serrate
Flowers:  White
Fruits / pods:  Fruit 2–4 × 1.5–2.5 mm
Flowering Period:   April, May, June
Habitat:   Nutrient-rich soils, ruderal
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands
Chorotype:  Euro-Siberian - Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Ephemeral

פרחים וצמחי בר בארץ ישראל, רוש עקוד

Derivation of the botanical name:
Conium, from ancient Greek name coneion, (koneion) for hemlock.
maculatum, Latin maculo, to spot, stain, pollute, defile; "spotted" or "mottled."
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
The Hebrew word 'rosh' is translated in different ways. From the passage in Hosea we see that 'rosh; was a quick-growing weed and from Deut.32:32 we believe that it was some berry-bearing plant: Conium masculatum?
Conium "hemlock" contains the alkaloid coniine, a neurotoxin, and was probably the state poison of Ancient Greece, and the poison used in the execution of Socrates. After being condemned to death for impiety in 399 BC, Socrates was given a potent solution of the hemlock plant.
Plato described Socrates' death in the Phaedo: 117e-118a, trans. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1990 edition, pp. 401-3.

After Socrates drank the poison, 'he walked about and, when he said his legs were heavy, lay down on his back, for such was the advice of the attendant.' The jailor then began to examine Socrates, much in the way a modern physician might do.

The man … laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said – and these were his last words – 'Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.' 'That,' said Crito, 'shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.' To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.

Conium maculatum, known in English as poison hemlock, and in Hebrew Rosh, is the poisonous plant mentioned in Jeremiah 8:14 and Deuteronomy 32:23.
Rosh refer to plants or to the bitter or poisonous juices of certain plants; Rosh by itself is mentioned as a common weed of the fields: "And justice degenerates into poison weeds, breaking out on the furrows of the fields" (Hos. 10:4). As a fruit-bearing plant, it occurs in Deuteronomy 32:32: "the grapes for them are poison."

Bible resources:
  1. Deuteronomy 32:32-33
    Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness.
    Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.
  2. Hosea 10:4
    They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
  3. Amos 6:12
    Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow the sea[a] with oxen?
    But you have turned justice into poison [rosh]and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness [la'anah]
  4. Job 16:13
    his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground.
  5. Psalm 69:21
    They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
  6. Proverbs 5:4
    but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
  7. Lamentations, Hebrew: אֵיכָה‎‎, Eikhah ("How") 3:15
    He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.
  8. Lamentations, Hebrew: אֵיכָה‎‎, Eikhah ("How") 3:19
    I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
  9. Jeremiah 8:14
    Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against him
  10. Matthew 27:33-34
    They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).
    There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

Conium maculatum,Poison hemlock,Herb bennet, Mother Die, רוש עקוד