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Tubular Water Dropwort

Oenanthe fistulosa

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
80 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, marshes, meadows, ponds, riverbanks, swamps, waterside, wetland.

White, 5 petals
Flowers are white or pink, each being 3mm across. Flowers appear in small umbels. The umbels are about 1cm wide. Flowers are usually without bracts. The petals are of unequal size.
Crowded, numerous, flattened, angular fruit.
A greyish, hairless perennial plant (very poisonous). The lower leaves are 2-pinnate, untoothed and lanceolate. Their stalks are long and hollow. The upper leaves are 1-pinnate (also untoothed) and linear in shape.
Smells of wine when crushed.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Oenanthe fistulosa, also known as the Tubular Water Dropwort, is a species of flowering plant in the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and is found in wetlands, damp meadows and riverbanks. The species has a hollow stem and its flowers are yellowish-white. It is poisonous and is often used in traditional medicine for treating a variety of ailments.


Tubular Water-dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa) is a species of flowering plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. It is a herbaceous perennial that grows up to 50cm tall, with a hollow stem that gives off a strong, celery-like aroma. This plant is also known by its other names, such as Hollow-stemmed Water-dropwort, Pipe-stemmed Water-dropwort and Fool’s Parsley.

Tubular Water-dropwort is native to Europe, but it has been widely introduced in other parts of the world, including North America and Asia. It grows in moist habitats such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches, and can be found in both sunny and shady locations. The plant has delicate and delicate white flowers that bloom in clusters in the summer.

While Tubular Water-dropwort is a beautiful and attractive plant, it is also extremely poisonous. The plant contains high levels of the toxic alkaloids oenanthotoxin, oenanthendine and mussotoxin, which can be dangerous if ingested. The plant has been known to cause severe symptoms in livestock, such as muscle tremors, weakness and paralysis.

In addition to its toxic nature, Tubular Water-dropwort is also considered an invasive species in some areas. It can quickly spread and outcompete native vegetation, disrupting local ecosystems. For these reasons, it is important to take precautions when handling this plant and to be mindful of its presence in the environment.

Tubular Water-dropwort has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes in some cultures, despite its toxic properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, for example, the plant was used to treat various ailments, including rheumatism, fever, and paralysis. In some parts of Europe, it was used as a herbal remedy for conditions such as migraines, respiratory problems and digestive issues.

However, it is important to note that the use of this plant for medicinal purposes is highly discouraged, due to its toxic nature. The plant contains highly toxic compounds, and even small amounts can lead to severe symptoms, including death. There have been numerous cases of fatal poisonings resulting from the ingestion of Tubular Water-dropwort, and it is considered one of the most poisonous plants in Europe.

In recent years, research has been conducted on the toxic compounds found in Tubular Water-dropwort, with the aim of developing treatments for various medical conditions. Some studies have shown that the compounds found in the plant have potential as treatments for conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. However, much more research is needed before any concrete medical applications can be developed.

In addition to its toxic properties and potential for medical applications, Tubular Water-dropwort is also of interest to botanists and ecologists. It is a unique and interesting species, and its presence in new areas can provide valuable information about the spread of invasive species and the impact they have on local ecosystems.

Tubular Water-dropwort is also an important food source for some wildlife species, particularly for mammals such as rabbits and deer. In some areas, the plant is also used as a forage crop for livestock, although this practice is highly discouraged due to the toxic nature of the plant.

In terms of its appearance, Tubular Water-dropwort is a striking and eye-catching plant, with delicate white flowers and a tall, hollow stem. The plant’s delicate appearance belies its toxic nature, and it is important to be aware of this when handling the plant or coming into contact with it in the wild.

In terms of its cultivation, Tubular Water-dropwort is a hardy and resilient species that can grow in a variety of conditions. It is a popular choice for wildflower gardens, and it can be grown in a variety of soils, as long as they are moist and well-drained. The plant is also relatively easy to care for, and it requires minimal maintenance once established.

Despite its attractive appearance and hardiness, it is important to be mindful of the potential dangers posed by Tubular Water-dropwort, and to take appropriate precautions when handling the plant. If you are considering growing this species in your garden, it is important to be aware of its toxic properties and to take steps to prevent any accidental poisonings.

In conclusion, Tubular Water-dropwort is a fascinating and unique species with a toxic nature that requires caution and awareness. Its delicate appearance belies its dangerous properties, and it is important to be mindful of its impact on both humans and wildlife. Despite its potential dangers, this species is an interesting and important part of the natural world, and it offers valuable insights into the spread of invasive species and the potential medical applications of toxic plants.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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