Saturday, 6 July 2013

Mowing reveals poisonous plants

Now that South Glos Council have mown the grass paths through Filnore Woods, we can spot two more umbellifer plants:  hogweed and hemlock

Hogweed has large flattish flower heads loved by insects in summer, when it flowers most, but you can find this large and common umbellifer in flower all the year round.

The stems are grooved.  The leaves are large and divided into coarse lobes. 

Hemlock on the other hand has a more limited period of flowering - between June and August.  The plant is tall but more delicate than hogweed. 

The leaves are ferny and finely divided, a bit like cow parsley.

This is very poisonous plant. The way to recognise it and to learn not to pick it, is to look at the stems.  They are blotched with purple. 

Purple blotches means hemlock means poison.  Socrates, the Greek philosopher was sentenced to death by drinking an infusion of hemlock.

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