April is the month when everything starts to burst into leaf and is the beginning of some wonderful foraging months but do you know what to look out for? One of the first most noticeable plants is Cow Parsley lining the roadsides but it has a tricky imitator in the form of Hemlock, which is poisonous for both bunnies and humans. On the whole, Cow Parsley is a much smaller, more lax, prettier plant whereas Hemlock will grow strong, robust hollow stems up to a cm in diameter with a more 'aggressive' stance on the roadside.
As a rule if it is flowering right now .. April .. its Cow Parsley.
(note: because of the columns in this post it may not display correctly on a mobile phone.
This photo shows Hemlock growing alongside Cow Parsley in a typical roadside location so you can see how it could easily get confused. The Hemlock is the shorter clump with more leathery, fronded, non-flowering leaves. The Cow Parsley has less dense, featherier leaves and is in full fower (April).
Hemlock will flower in June, after the Cow Parsley flowers have died down.
REMEMBER if you are not 110% certain that the plant is Cow Parsley then do not pick. To be honest I go by a few simple rules which are that if its about 2' high and in flower in April then its going to be Cow Parsley. Only pick stems that lead to flowers so you know it is definitely the one and there isn't Hemlock growing amongst it.