What’s that whiff, if you pick up a foul smell whilst out walking now it might be you have caught the scent of Dog’s mercury. In appearance, it’s quite unassuming, maybe 20cm tall with hairy, course leaves and in the spring clusters of small, green flowers. At first glance, this perennial plant appears innocuous, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, Dog's mercury is highly poisonous, ingestion of this plant can lead to vomiting, jaundice, coma and eventually death, so please DON'T FORAGE THIS ONE!
It flourishes in woodland with a preference for living under oak, beech, ash and elm, and some species of ground-nesting bird, such as woodcock, seem drawn to areas colonised with dog’s mercury.
By River Six