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Rhu & Shandon Community Council

Hemlock Water Droplet

called by some "the most poisonous plant in Britain"

Local sitings

  • March 2017: Helensburgh Sailing Club. 
  • March 2017: South shore of Rhu spit. To be confirmed.
  • Spring 2015: In the shingle in Shandon.
  • This was root taken from Rhu Bay in 2014 ?


  • It is at its most poisonous in late winter and early spring.
  • it is a member of the carrot family and can easily be confused with other edible plants of the carrot/parsley cfamily, which have similar leaves and parsnip-like roots. Online Encyclopaedia of the Umbelliferae (Carrot/Parsley) Family of the British Isles 
  • In  Spring, the plants usually have very few leaves and the creamy parsnip-like roots just visible. After a storm the roots are more visible. 
  • Do not do this test unless you are wearing gloves. All  parts of the plant poisonous.
    • The leaves have a strong unpleasant smell when broken (like acrid celery).
    • The stems are hairless, grooved and hollow, 
    • This is taken from Galloway Wild Foods which also has a good image of the definitive leaves