Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption

       Downsizer Forum Index -> Foraging
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

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:

Here's hemlock:

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!


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 )

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.


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...
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Foraging
Page 1 of 1
Home Home Home Home Home