Every now and then my husband and I come across a plant/tree which is unfamiliar and sparks our interest. Such is the case with these evergreen branches that grow out of the ground rather than grow from a stem or trunk and grow tall. This is the Canadian/American yew also known as the ground hemlock.
This is not the same plant which killed Socrates but it is toxic nonetheless. This coniferous hemlock, unlike the famous herbaceous kind the ancient Greeks used to kill condemned prisoners, was used by the Indigenous people of North America in their herbal medicine to treat rheumatism.
Today, ground hemlock is harvested from May-August on Prince Edward Island. Because most all of the plant is toxic, the harvesting is regulated and harvesters must be trained and licensed. The plant is used in the production of the anti-cancer drug Taxol and other similar drugs.
This plant is part of the underbrush in the forest and is easy to overlook. It resembles fir branches growing out of the forest floor.
It is so much more however. Because of its toxicity, it gives hope to millions of people with cancer. Ironic, though not Socratic irony. However maybe Socrates himself would stretch the definition in this case.