Delicious or Deadly?

I confess to knowing very little about plants and flowers. I’ve always been fascinated by animals, and everything else has taken a back seat. I’d usually be pushing past the plants to get a better view of something more exciting. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the country in a very green, heavily planted area. My dad used to grow and sell camelias, driving them all over the country. He is very good on flowers, and my mum is very good on other green plants.

Yesterday, while in Lelant garden centre, I picked up a few bargain books on mushrooms and foraging. I wanted to test out my eyes on the plants by the river, so set off with the book in my back pocket. As I was walking out the door, my mum warned me about a poisonous plant, Hemlock Water Dropwort (a green plant that looks almost identical to cow parsley).

I found plenty of ‘delicious’ cow parsley, although I was now doubting myself and thought that everything was the  poisonous doppleganger.




A few feet away from a large patch of cow parsley was its evil twin, the hemlock. At a glance it is very difficult to tell the difference. Fortunately, cow parsley flowers earlier than the hemlock, so it is possible to separate the two. Another noticeable difference is the location of the hemlock. It grows much nearer the water and in some cases, in it.




I also found a mint like plant, that could very well be some sort of riverside mint.


Now, those of you with weaker stomachs should skip to the last bit, as the next segment focuses on poo. I’m still determined to see an otter down by the river. I’m convinced that they are there as the last time I camped there, I very nearly pitched my tent right on top of some otter poo (spraint). I didn’t find any otter spraint this time, but I did find a few quite different specimens. After some post breakfast discussion, I think this incredibly large bird poo belongs to a heron.


I believe this to be from a fox, although it doesn’t have the characterising twist that you’d normally see on fox poo. Having said that, most of my experience with fox poo, or ‘fox shit’ as it’s usually referred to in this case, is when a dog has decided to roll in it… leaving nothing to ID apart from the smell.


The following two examples, could also be fox. They could also be badger but I can’t really say. I don’t really have a sense of smell, meaning I can’t rely on that for ID purposes, but it does mean I can get pretty close without too much recoil.



Finally, we get to the mushrooms. I didn’t find many on my short wander, but what I did find was very cool. There was one small puffball with a black filling, then the more exciting find of Sarcoscypha Austriaca. I was actually able to ID this fungi using one of my bargain pocket guides! It is, apparently, a poisonous, endangered fungi. I was quite pleased with that.




It’s amazing what you can find when you’re really looking. Hallelujah for bargain pocket guides. I wonder if they do one on poo?

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