Hemlock or Cow Parsley - Simple System Horse Feeds

Hemlock or Cow Parsley?

22 May 2023

Hemlock, a highly toxic plant, appears to be growing in abundance this year. Hemlock and cow parsley look similar. Although cow parsley is safe and tasty for our horses, hemlock is very poisonous and can be fatal even in small quantities.

There are some differences between the two plants, and hemlock can be identified as follows:

  • Hemlock has smooth stems (whilst cow parsley has ridged stems like celery).
  • Hemlock has distinctive purple splashes on the stems.
  • Hemlock has more luxuriant foliage.
  • Hemlock flowers a month later than cow parsley (whilst cow parsley is in flower now, hemlock tends to flower in June and July).
  • Hemlock prefers damp places but can grow just about anywhere.
  • Hemlock has an unpleasant musty smell, resembling mouse urine (whilst cow parsley smells fresh and herby).


As always, our Feed Line are available to offer feeding advice and management suggestions on 01728 604 008. You can also request a free Feed Plan by completing our online form.

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