Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Oenanthe crocata

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oeananthe crocata L.


Oenanthe, is derived from the Greek ainos (wine) and anthos (a flower), from the wine-like scent of the flowers.


Traditional name

Water Dropwort
 Syn.: Enanthe crocata
 English: Hemlock Drop-wort, Hemlock Water Dropwort

Used parts

Tinct. trit. of root.


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Rosiflorae / Rosidae; Apiales; Umbelliferae / Apiaceae - Carrot / Celery Family


Original proving

Introduced by Ray. Remedy picture based mainly on numerous toxicological reports. In 1987-88 proved by Lesigang on 14 persons [10 men, 4 women].

Description of the substance

Oenanthe crocata is common in England, particularly in the southern districts, where it chooses ditches and watering places as its habitat. Originally stemming from warm climates such as the south of France, Italy and Morocco, it has not been a great success in other Western European countries, where it is one of the rare species of plant. Its fruits contain air cavities for floating on the water.
     Other than the case with most umbellifers, which possess single and conic roots, those of Oenanthe consist of clusters of fleshy tubers. Hence its popular name 'Five-Fingered Root'. Another popular name, 'Dead Tongue,' originates from the paralysing effect of the plant on the organs of speech.

Found in damp or marshy areas and along canals, streams and brooks. Most troublesome during ditching operations or drainage work which expose the roots in winter. this plant is often mistaken for members of the parsnip or parsley families.
The species most commonly termed Water Hemlock is Oenanthe crocata, the Hemlock Water Dropwort, a common plant in England, especially in the southern counties, in ditches and watering places, but not occurring in Scandinavia, Holland, Germany, Russia, Turkey or Greece.

It is a large, stout plant, 3 to 5 feet high, the stems thick, erect, much branched above, furrowed, hollow, tough, dark green and smooth.
The roots are perennial and fleshy, of a pale yellow colour. They have a sweetish and not unpleasant taste, but are virulently poisonous. Being often exposed by the action of running water near which they grow, they are thus easily accessible to children and cattle, and the plant should not be allowed to grow in places where cattle are kept, as instances are numerous in which cows have been poisoned by eating these roots. They have also occasionally been eaten in mistake, either for wild celery or water parsnip, with very serious results, great agony, sickness, convulsions, or even death resulting. While the root of the Parsnip is single and conical in form, that of Oenanthe crocata consists of clusters of fleshy tubers similar to those of the Dahlia, hence, perhaps, one of its popular names: Dead Tongue.
The author of Familiar Wild Flowers states that the name 'Dead Tongue' was given from the paralysing effect of this plant on the organs of speech. No British wild plant has been responsible for more fatal accidents than the one in question: a party of workmen repairing a breach in a towing-path dug up the plants and ate the roots, mistaking them for parsnips; another party, working in a field, thought that a few of the leaves with their bread and cheese would prove a tasty relish: in each case death occurred within three hours. On another occasion eight boys ate the roots, and five died - and the other three had violent convulsions and lost their reason for many hours.

Both stem and root, when cut, exude a yellowish juice, hence the specific name of the plant and one of the common names (Yellow Water Dropwort) by which it is known.

The leaves are somewhat celery-like in form, and the flowers are in bloom in June and July, and are borne in large umbels. There is considerable variety in the form of the leafsegments, the number of rays in the umbel, and of the involucre bracts. The lower leaves, with very short, sheathing footstalks, are large and spreading, reaching more than a foot in length, broadly triangular in outline and tripinnate. The leaflets are stalkless, 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, roundish, with a wedge-shaped base, deeply and irregularly lobed, dark green, paler and shining beneath. The upper leaves are much smaller, nearly stalkless, the segments narrower and acute.
A stout erect branched, glabrous perennial herb 50 to 150 cm in light root tubers 2 to 3 cm on diameter. Stem fusiform hollow, grooved. Leaves 30 cm or more deltoid, 3 to 4 pinnate, segments ovate or sub - orbicular, cuneate at base, 1 to 2 lobed, serrate, teeth obtuse or sub - acute with a minute apiculus, segments of stem leaves narrower; petioles entirely sheathing.Flowers 2 mm in diameter with outer petals unequal in umbels 5 to 10 cm diameter style 2 mm erect. Bracts and bractcoies many, caducous linear lanceolate. Fruit 4 - 6 mm cylindrical. Roots taste, sweet but poisonous and contains yellow juice when fresh.
Part used: Root.
Distritibution: Great Britain and British Island, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium & Poutugal.