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Gavin Bl

confusing hemlock with elderflower??

hello all,
I'll show my novice status with my first post - I've been told that some varieties of hemlock can be confused with elderflower. Is this the case, and if so, is there a fool-proof method of distinguishing them?

thanks alot
Gav
cab

Re: confusing hemlock with elderflower??

Hi Gavin, welcome aboard!

I'm assuming you're referring to good old British wild elder (Sambucus nigra) and hemlock (Conium maculatum).

Hemlock is a tallish plant, but it isn't a tree. Its got white 'umbels' of flowers, of course, being an 'umbellifer', but there the resemblance to elder ends.

Elder is a little woody tree. Its got dark green leaves, the young stems are green but the stem is a tree trunk, its woody.

Hemlock has a softer stem, it isn't a tree, it has slightly hairy red-purple blotchy on green stems. The leaves are feathery.

Heres a pic of an elder tree:
http://ispb.univ-lyon1.fr/cours/botanique/photos_dicoty/dico%20Q%20a%20Z/Sambucus%20nigra.jpg

Here's hemlock:
http://www.habitas.org.uk/flora/photo.asp?item=3655

Now... Are you talking about hemlock per se, or are you worried about some of the North American (Asian too?) trees that also bear that name?
Gavin Bl

Thanks Cab - that was the kind of hemlock I was referring to, but I can see from the photos, the diffs are pretty clear.

much appreciated, ta!

Gav
dpack

hi gavin best to ask .
cab has written a very good set of posts on the umbelliferae
focusing on the problem spp .
they can be tricky blighters but not impossible .
the concise british flora (martin)andthe wild flowers of britain and northern europe (fitter.fitter and blamey ) are nice pocket guides .
be careful and eat well (more than once )
Jonnyboy

Good idea to be wary of the unkown, a useful survival trait!

In practice i think once you see the species for real you'll see that the odds of mistaken identity are remote.
Gavin Bl

thanks all - I was looking mainly at the broader leaf and flatter denser flower umbrella on the elder, and it being more of a tree- but as you say, I'm not about to pick a load till I'm 110% sure, but this is exactly the kind of pointer I was after.

Gav
wildfoodie

ooh gavin
so you still have eldeflowers out in your neck of the woods? I'm green with envy as ours mostly green berries now...
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