Back in August in Credenhill Park Wood it was in the berry phase. These berries are highly toxic. However, people rarely get poisoned to death by them as they are so caustic they irritate the mouth and throat.
This plant used to be called cuckoo pint. Pint is an old word for the part of the male anatomy that Rambling Ratz is too genteel to raise in public … Those prudish Victorians were horrified by this and rather grandly renamed it lords and ladies. Before it turns to berries it has a prominent spadix (a poker shaped cluster of flowers) which rodents are keen to gnaw on. It is also known as wild arum, as well as a lot of other slightly rude names.
The root of this plant used to be roasted and turned into a beverage by poor country folk. Rich Elizabethans used the tubers to starch their ruffs. In the seventeenth century, the famous herbalist Nicholas Culpeper suggested mixing the berries with hot ox dung and applying it externally to ease gout. Rambling Ratz does not endorse the handling of cuckoo pint berries nor hot ox dung – you have been warned.
This illustration from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica shows the plant in its various stages, courtesy of Wikimedia.