It was a muddy day today indeed down at West Itchenor Pond as the MWHG volunteers set out to remove Hemlock Water Dropwort, the carrot’s highly poisonous cousin.
Hemlock Water Dropwort, or dead man’s fingers, looks dangerously similar to parsley at first glance. Once unearthed, you might even be forgiven in thinking the roots look like a tasty parsnip. But do not serve this with your Sunday roast as all parts of the plant are toxic.
By clearing hemlock leaves and tubers, other wetland plants (such as figwort, native yellow flag irises and water mint) have a chance to thrive which, in turn, increases the pond’s biodiversity. A rich biodiversity of plants is important in Itchenor as water voles have colonised the pond, and we want to supply them with rich and varied food sources.
Here at West Itchenor Pond, hemlock is rife. Over the last few years MWHG volunteers have removed a huge amount of it with their spades and forks, with impressive results! Already, there is noticeably less hemlock than in previous years, which is good news for us and the wildlife.
And today was equally successful, with only one person (Me!) having to be pulled out of the mud by Alex. No wellies were lost in the bog and the robins seemed very grateful for the exposed mud and grubs we left for them. We also had time spare to admire a group of silvery whirligig beetles dancing on the water (thanks to Felicity’s keen eye) and, of course, tuck into Jane’s delicious home-made cakes!