Hemlock Water Dropwort is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in streams, ditches and wet ground, to a mature height of up to 150cm.
Hemlock Water Dropwort and Poison Hemlock are both deadly toxic plants of the Carrot family, but are not closely related. Hemlock Water Dropwort is considered to be the most poisonous wild plant in the UK and contains the potent nerve toxin Oenanthetoxin. Hemlock Water Dropwort usually grows in shallow water, is hairless with ribbed stems, and has pinnate leaves that look similar to Coriander or Flat-Leaved Parsley. Hemlock Water Dropwort bears white flowers, clustered together into small umbellet clumps, on widely-spaced ribbed stalks, arranged into large globe-shaped umbels.
Botanic classification and naming: Hemlock Water Dropwort is a member of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family. The genus name
'Oenanthe' identifies the plant as a Water Dropwort and its species name 'crocata' means 'crocus-like (yellow seed capsules)'.
Concerns: Hemlock Water Dropwort is a very common waterside plant and yet all parts of the plant are extremely toxic (especially the leaves and parsnip-like tubers). The ingestion of even small amounts of plant material can cause severe illness, respiratory failure or death. Misidentification of Hemlock Water Dropwort by foragers as Flat-Leaved Parsley, Water Celery or Water Parsnip can have fatal consequences.