Parsley, Fool'sotanical: Aethusa cynapium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Synonyms: Lesser Hemlock. Smaller Hemlock. Dog Parsley. Dog Poison.
Part Used: Herb.
Description: This annual plant is not unlike both Parsley and Hemlock. Its leaves, which are very similar to those of Parsley, are more acute, of a darker green and when bruised emit a disagreeable odour. When in flower it is easily distinguished because it has no general involucre and the partial involucre is composed of three to five long pendulous bracts which are drawn to one side, also the flowers, instead of being yellow, are white. It differs from Hemlock in being smaller, having its stem unspotted and the ridges of its fruit not wavy, also in the odour of the leaves, which is less unpleasant than that of Hemlock.
Constituents: The active principle is an alkaloid, Cynopine.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Though poisonous, the plant is less so than hemlock. Poisoning from Fool's Parsley showed symptoms of heat in the mouth and throat and a post-mortem examination showed redness of the lining membrane of the gullet and windpipe and slight congestion of the duodenum and stomach.
It is used medicinally as a stomachic and sedative for gastro-intestinal troubles in children, for summer diarrhoea and cholera infantum.