All about the hemlock in the gardens

All about the hemlock in the gardens

The characteristics of the garden hemlock

  • Type: flower and flowering plant
  • Height: from 0 to 30 cm, from 30 to 60 cm, from 60 to 80 cm
  • Flower colors: White
  • Fruit name: achene
  • Toxic: Yes

Origins and peculiarities of the garden hemlock

Thehemlock gardens, or aethusa cynapium in Latin, is better known aslittle hemlock, false parsley, hemlock of dogs, or hemlock of woods. Garden hemlock is a highly poisonous plant that should not be eaten or touched by children who may wear it. It is a biennial herbaceous plant of the apiaceae family which can measure up to 60 cm high.

Garden hemlock occurs spontaneously in the temperate regions of Europe and western Asia, but it remains an infrequent plant. It grows up to 1,500 meters above sea level on pathsides, in wasteland, in cultivated fields, in light woods or in gardens, provided it is in a cool place.

The hemlock in the gardens is appreciated for its ornamental qualities which bring a rustic touch to overly strict beds or volume to flat beds. However, given its high toxicity, few gardeners risk planting it in a garden.

How to recognize the little hemlock or hemlock in the gardens?

Its flowers are white and have uneven rays, its leaves are subtly divided, triangular, shiny, with stems marked with a reddish line and strangely resemble those of chervil and flat parsley. Its fruit is called achene, and it is ovoid in shape.

In addition, it has three green strips on each group of flowers, which is not the case with parsley and makes it easy to distinguish hemlock from gardens.

Dangers of the garden hemlock

The hemlock flower in the gardens is a very toxic plant, it indeed contains an alkaloid dangerous for the man named conine. When ingested, conine can cause serious health problems or even death. This is why, despite its aesthetic qualities, the hemlock in the gardens is not very planted: it is both dangerous for humans, but also for animals that are tempted to eat it.

The danger comes from its resemblance to wild parsley, wild carrot or chervil. However, the foul smell of the hemlock from the gardens makes it possible to tell that it is not one of these plants: unlike parsley or other, when you crumple its leaves, it gives off a very unpleasant odor.

What are the differences between the small and the big hemlock?

Like her cousin, the big hemlock is a plant that can be extremely toxic if swallowed because it contains conine; it was by drinking the big hemlock that the philosopher Socrates was killed by an Athenian court ...

However, unlike the hemlock of dogs, the large hemlock (also known under the names of hemlock of pharmacy, spotted hemlock, hemlock of Socrates or common hemlock) has interesting medicinal properties. Provided of course to dose it sparingly!
The hemlock is therefore used today as a medicinal plant, in homeopathic doses, to act on:

  • Prostate disorders;
  • Dizziness ;
  • Breast pain.

Obviously, never consume hemlock (large or small!) In its natural form, or in any form for that matter without first consulting a doctor.