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Botanical Name :Oenanthe crocata
Common Name :Water dropwort.
Other Names : Dean’s fingers. Beldrum
(Pemb). Bendock, (Kent). Cowbane. (Yks). Bilders, (Corn, Dev, IoW). Deadman’s cresh,
(Dumf). Dead tounge, (Lancs, Weat, Cumb). Eltrot, (Wilts,Som) Five fingered rot, (Pemb, Glam).
Water sapwort, (Ang). Water hemlock, (Suss, Cumb) . Wild rue, (Donegal). Deathin. (Som).
Habitat :Oenanthe crocata is found in S.& W. Great Britain. Rare of a line E from from London to Inverness. Ireland except C.& W. W.Europe. N.W. Africa. It grows in damp, marshy ground, and resembles celery with roots like a bunch of large white carrots.
Oenanthe crocata is a glabrous perennial but Poisonous plant With aroma of parsley and test is Sweet.The height of the plant is 150cm.The stem is hollow and grooved having yellow juice.The root is cylindrical-obovoid tubers, 6 x lcm. Has yellowish juice, which stains hands.The umbel (An umbel is an inflorescence which consists of a number of short flower stalks (called pedicels) which spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. The arrangement can vary from being flat topped to almost spherical. Umbels can be simple or compound. ) is compound, terminal. 5-10cm. diam. with (7)12-40 smooth rays (1.5)3-8 cm long.
LEAVES : lower: 30cm 3(4) pinnate, sheathing petioles. Segments 1-2cm, ovate to suborbicular
in outline, crenate to pinnatifid, cuneate at the base, serrate, teeth obtuse or subacute with
minute apiculus. Upper: 1-2 pinnate, narrower segments with short sheathing petiole. Cotyledons
abruptly contracted into a petiole.
Peduncle> than rays. Terminal hermaphrodite, lateral male Partial umbels not flat topped in fruit.
BRACTS : 5, linear to 3-fid. Bracteoles 6 or more, caducous, linear lanceolate.
FLOWERS : white. Sepals ovate to triangular, acute, persistent, outer petals scarcely radiating,
unequal. Styles form a stylopodium. F1 .6-7.
FRUIT : 4-5.5 mm cylindrical, rarely subovoid. Commisure broad. Mericarps with slender ridges. Carpophore present vittae solitary. Styles 2mm, erect 1/2 > as fruit. Stigma a small knob.2n=22*
Oenanthe crocata is most poisonous plant and has never been used to any extent in medicine, though in some cases it has been taken with effect in eruptive diseases of the skin, being given at first in small doses, gradually increased.
Great caution must be exercised in the use of the tincture.
The roots have likewise been used in poultices to whitlows and to foul ulcers, both in man and horned cattle.
Other Uses with Known Hazards: The leaves may be eaten safely by livestock, but the stems, and especially the carbohydrate-rich roots are much more poisonous. Animals familiar with eating the leaves may eat the roots when these are exposed during ditch clearance – one root is sufficient to kill a cow, and human fatalities are also known. It has been referred to as the most poisonous of all British plants, and is considered particularly dangerous because of its similarity to several edible plants.
Scientists at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Italy claimed to have identified hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) as the plant responsible for producing the sardonic grin. This plant is the most-likely candidate for the “sardonic herb,” which was a neurotoxic plant used for the ritual killing of elderly people in Phoenician Sardinia. When these people were unable to support themselves, they were intoxicated with this herb and then dropped from a high rock or beaten to death. Criminals were also executed in this way.
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