Cow parsley

Anthriscus sylvestris
Carrot family (Apiaceae)

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Anthriscus sylvestris, known as cow parsley, wild chervil, wild beaked parsley, Queen Anne's lace or keck, is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant in the family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), genus Anthriscus. It is also sometimes called mother-die (especially in the UK), a name that is also applied to the common hawthorn. It is native to Europe, western Asia and northwestern Africa; in the south of its range in the Mediterranean region, it is limited to higher altitudes. It is related to other diverse members of Apiaceae, such as parsley, carrot, hemlock and hogweed. It is often confused with Daucus carota which is also known as Queen Anne's lace or wild carrot, also a member of the Apiaceae.


The hollow stem grows to a height of 60–170 cm (24–67 in), branching to umbels of small white flowers. Flowering time is mid spring to early summer.

The tripinnate leaves are 15–30 cm (5.9–11.8 in) long and have a triangular form. The leaflets are ovate and subdivided.

Cow parsley grows in sunny to semi-shaded locations in meadows and at the edges of hedgerows and woodland. It is a particularly common sight by the roadside. It is sufficiently common and fast-growing to be considered a nuisance weed in gardens. Cow parsley's ability to grow rapidly through rhizomes and to produce large quantities of seeds in a single growing season has made it an invasive species in many areas of the United States. Vermont has listed cow parsley on its "Watch List" of invasive species, while Massachusetts has banned the sale of the plant. It is classed as a Class B Noxious Weed in the State of Washington since 1989, where its sale is also banned. In Iceland, cow parsley has been classified as an alien invasive species.


All parts of the cow parsley plant are edible, with a flavour sharper than garden chervil and described as grassy parsley with a hint of licorice or aniseed. The plant is invasive and spreads easily along roads, and the edges of woods and fields, so it is not cultivated but instead foraged in the wild from February to November. However extreme caution is advised when foraging cow parsley because it is easily confused with other species of the Apiaceae family, such as the deadly poisonous hemlock and fool's parsley. Because the plant's flavour is considered unremarkable and the risk is great, foraging cow parsley in the wild is usually strongly discouraged.: 64

Resemblance to family members

Cow parsley can be mistaken for similar-looking poisonous plants, among them poison hemlock and fool's parsley.

The same holds true as to giant cow parsley/giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the sap of which can cause severe burns after coming in contact with the skin.



External links

  • "Anthriscus sylvestris". Plants For A Future.
  • "Wild chervil". Wild Foods UK.



WWW info

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