I believe every plant has gifts to offer. Some plants are nourishing human foods or medicines, others provide habitat for spiders, pollen for pollinators, or forage for herbivores, while others provide gifts we may not yet recognize. I'd like to suggest that the notorious, native perennial Spotted Water-hemlock (Cicuta maculata) gifts foragers with the reminder to take proper identification seriously.
Spotted Water-hemlock is said to be New England's most toxic plant species. Lee Allen Peterson writes of C. maculata: "Warning: Our deadliest species. A single mouthful can kill."* A plant this toxic is surely worth getting to know, if only so we learn who not to forage. Spotted Water-hemlock has tiny, 5-petaled, white flowers in 2-4" wide double umbels, twice or thrice pinnately-compound leaves with coarsely toothed leaflets, and a multi-branched, smooth, purple stem.
The toxicity of this species and other members of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family requires foragers to exercise caution when collecting any of the edible members of this family. Care should also be taken not to confuse Spotted Water-hemlock with Black Elderberry, a shrub in an unrelated family (Adoxaceae). Though the two plants have many clear differences, their flowers from a distance may appear similar, and they may grow near each other in roadside ditches or on the edges of wetlands.
Powerfully toxic plants like this one are why I caution against "identifying" a plant based on a single field mark or an apparent photographic match, and instead stress the importance of learning to use a reliable field guide or trusted online resource to key out unfamiliar plants. Skipping this crucial step could result in more than just discomfort. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)
*A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America (1977), p. 42.