Conium maculatum   Hemlock CC DD N

Conium maculatum Conium maculatum

At first you might confuse this plant with Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley) because they both have lightish green foliage with feathery leaves and a typical white umbellifer top. The differences are noticeable when you've trained your eye. Conium maculatum has a lighter shade of green foliage to me, it starts to flower slightly later when the Anthriscus is already in full bloom and can be much taller. When you get close to the plant, you are immediately aware that the stem is (usually) covered in purple blotches (hence maculatum = spotty). It is famously poisonous being the plant used to make a potion which Socrates was required to drink after being sentenced to death.

These days Conium maculatum is rapidly becoming a pest and huge stands of the plant can appear on verges of main roads and even motorways.

It is found throughout England and also in Wales except for the high ground. It is common in Ireland too but records decrease as you go into northern Scotland.

LHS: Waste ground, Ellesmere Port 18th May 2005 RHS Pensarn Beach Abergele 4th may 2006

Added on 18th May 2005, updated 5th December 2008, updated 19th March 2010

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