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Fool’s Watercress

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

Although it is usually described as poor mans cress it tastes nothing like cress so it is an unfair comparison, it tastes pleasantly of carrot and is great as a cooked green vegetable.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Fool’s Watercress, Poor Mans Watercress
Synonyms Apium nodiflorum
Scientific Name Helosciadium nodiflorum
Season Start Mar
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Oval and a bit more serrated than true Watercress.


Small white flowers with five petals arranged in an umbel (umbrella like) on stems emerging from the leaf stem joint.


Smooth, round and hollow.


Slow moving shallow water, ponds and wet ditches.

Possible Confusion

True Watercress, pictured, but it smells of cress unlike the carrot smelling Fool’s Watercress. Lesser Water Parsnip, Berula erecta which is more upright, smells of parsnip and has a ring or ridge around the base of the leaf stems and more serrated leaf edges but is not poisonous so this wouldn’t be a fatal mistake to make.
Lesser Water Parsnip also looks similar but has sharp serrated leaf edges, unlike Fools Watercress. It also grows by the main stem splitting into a Y shape with one arm becoming the main stem, the other becoming a leaf stem and where the umbel flowers grow from. This continues up the plant with the main stem splitting at an angle with the leaf stem on the opposing angle. The smell is parsnip but that can be hard to differentiate from the carrot smell of Fools Watercress.


Strongly of carrot.




When collecting Fool’s Watercress from the wild it must be cooked as out of site upstream there might be sheep and if so there is the potential for liver flukes which can cause fascioliasis, a nasty liver disease.


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