Friday 23 October 2020

Poisonous Herbs: Hemlock - A Witches' Plant

Dry hemlock seed heads along river banks is one of the iconic sights of an autumn walk. Hemlock is also one of the poisonous plants associated with witchcraft. The Weird Sisters in Shakespeare's Macbeth throw a root of it into their cauldron, and it is another traditional ingredient of flying ointment along with mandrake, henbane and aconite

Matt Porter, who specialises in growing and preserving poisonous herbs, sent me these pictures of his two hemlock plants and their roots. He wrote:

"I harvested after the plants went to sleep for the year. The smaller potted plant is water hemlock and the larger one is poison hemlock. The whole root inside the jar is the water hemlock root and the other root is the poison hemlock root. I thoroughly enjoyed growing my hemlock this year and last year and found it quite low maintenance when it came to its upkeep. I kept all of the leaves and flower head cuttings and dried them out for my altar and ritual uses."

The pictures are copyright Matt Porter, who has very kindly been allowing me to use his pictures of poisonous plants on A Bad Witch's Blog. You can see earlier posts here:

Notes: This post is for information purposes only, it is not advice. If you think you might have been poisoned seek urgent medical help.

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