“It is true that Hemlock Water Dropwort is very poisonous when eaten. However this is no reason to over-react to finding the roots of this species, the “Dead Man’s Fingers” currently subject to a lot of media frenzy, on Croyde beach. It is a native species growing profusely in the parish all along the streams and in wet areas. Cattle avoid it unless desperate as it smells and tastes bad to them. These characteristics are the species’ evolved defence against grazing, and a facet of stream-side biodiversity. Roots are washed out of the banks and down the Crydda from time to time especially in heavy rain. Therefore they appear on the beach regularly, and disintegrate naturally. It is a good idea to stop your dog picking them up in its mouth, but otherwise keep calm and carry on walking on the beach. 

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