Hemlock water-dropwort has a fascinating history. Its very toxicity once held it in high esteem when capital punishment was more common, and easy methods of execution valued. A “sardonic” smile, is a direct reference to the widespread use of HWD in Sardinia where a decoction of its roots were used to administer death sentences.
If you want to develop your knowledge of edible wild plants then spring is the time. Lots of interesting species begin their year’s growth and if you can spot them early and monitor their development you will gain a really good feel for how they grow. Things are also easier to spot at this time of year, before everything starts clambering, sprawling and entwining. Also, if you don’t catch some of these plants now, you will have to wait until next spring to have another go at them!
When learning to forage, it is more important to familiarise yourself with poisonous than edible species. Though truly dangerous species are much rarer than some people think, there is no room for complacency as there are a dozen or so seriously toxic plants and fungi that are common in the UK.