Hemlock Water Dropwort - Oenanthe crocata
Prefers moist ground
Found near rivers, streams, ponds, and in wet meadows
Leaves are mid-green, 3-4 times pinnate, and roughly triangular-shaped
Stems are hollow, leaf stems are not
Crushed stems/leaves smell like sweet celery or parsley
Steam are grooved
Whole plant is hairless
Flowers arranged in white umbels
Fruit are yellowish
Has tuberous pale yellow-white roots resembling parsnips
Hemlock Water Dropwort - Oenathe crocata
Deadly poisonous - advanced identification
Other common names: Dead Man's Fingers, Water Hemlock, Water Hemlock Dropwort, Horsebane, Yellow Water Dropwort, Dead Tongue, Five-Fingered Root
Scientific name meaning: Oenanthe comes from the Greek Oinotheras, which is a willowherb with roots smelling of wine. Plus, the Greek word Anth, meaning flower. This is due to this plant's flowers smelling like wine. Crocata is from the Latin Crocatus, meaning saffron-yellow, which is due to the yellow juice the plant exudes if it is crushed or cut
Season Spring to Autumn
Habitat - where will I find it? Hemlock Water Dropwort prefers a moist environment, but can be found on drier soils. It is common on the sides of rivers, streams, ponds, and in damp meadows
Description - what does it look like? Hemlock is hairless growing to 1.5m.
It has mid-green pinnate leaves (3-4 times) that has lobed or toothed leaflets, and resemble the leaves of parsley or celery. The leaves are roughly triangular in overall shape.
The plant stems are hollow and grooved. The leaf stems are not hollow.
When crushed, the leaves/stems smell similar to parsley or sweet celery. It is not an offensive smell.
The flowers are arranged in white umbels and followed by yellowish fruit containing the seeds.
Hemlock Water Dropwort has pale yellow-white tuberous roots that strongly resemble parsnips
Possible lookalikes Looks like several members of the carrot family, including edible members. Similar looking edible members, such as Wild Celery, Wild Parsnip, Water Parsnip, Lovage and wild growing Parsley, should be left to advanced foragers. Some care should also be taken when identifying Alexanders
Poisonous parts All parts of the plant are deadly poisonous, the main toxin being Oenanthotoxin. The roots contain the highest concentration of toxins. It causes convulsions, seizures and death
Use in herbal medicine Due its deadly toxicity, Hemlock Water Dropwort has no medicinal use
This plant is a deadly poisonous - do not consume
If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner
Other uses Has been used as the method of execution, and to poison rats and moles
Hazards This plant is deadly poisonous
Importance to other species An important food source for bees, wasps and hoverflies
Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!