Get to know the Cow Parsley-Anthriscus sylvetris





When walking or driving along country lanes during the month of May, and early summer you will encounter the flowers of this common plant that adorns the countless miles  of such localities. They may also be found along ditches and woodland margins.Other quaint names for the plant include Wild chervil, Queen Anne's Lace and Gypsy laces. Our American cousins give the name of Queen Anne's Lace to a close relative of this plant the wild carrot Daucus carota, with which it must not be confused.

It is another member of the Parsley family the Apiaceae {formerly the Umbellifer family}, which includes house names such as celery,parsley, corriander and fennel. However, it also includes the very poisonous Hemlock.{ see Wild Herb Advise}.

The common name alludes to it being an inferior plant to the true parsley-A parsley fit only for cows. Another example of derogatory names associated with flora is the dog rose-an inferior rose-a rose fit only for dogs. Although it flowers every year where it is established it is an herbaceous biennial or short lived perennial.






 Photographs by Dal

Photos---Top --Young growth of cow parsley.  Below. foliage of cow parsley.

Cow parsley is erect in habit. The stems are hollow and gives rise to its Genus name Anthriscus-meaning hollow stemmed. The stem is not spotted. After flowering the main rosette dies back but produces side rosettes which then develop tap roots which in turn develops new plants independent of the parent. The cow parsley spreads in this way where established populations occur. To this species this manner of reproduction is far more utilised than seed germination.

The foliage of the plant is tripinnate in form {three times divided}, the leaf as a whole has a triangular outline. The leaflets are ovate and sub-divided each segment is toothed. The leaves are stalked and where they meet the stem are sheathed, a characteristic of this family. The stem leaves are much smaller and short stalked.

The small white flowers are produced in umbels, each umbel having 4-15 rays. {spokes like an umbrella} They have a lacy effect. Seeds are produced in copious amounts. They have no apparent means of dispersal other than dropping away when ripe, and any wind may carry them short distances. Birds may help to disperse some of the seeds. They do not float on water. Studies have shown that reproduction from seed occurs, in the main, after the soil has been disturbed. Conversely, the relatively large seed seems capable of germination in grassland with minimal disturbance.

ASSOCIATED PAGES, Click on the banners at the top of this page. scroll down to view.


Giant Hogweed. 

Fools parsley.

Hemlock waterdropwort. 

Other wild flora featured on this site can be viewed by clicking on the individual content banners {they are all grouped together}

Basic plant biology { 1-2-3-4}

Series. Red Listed UK plants.  Commencing with UK Red List -1  { Pheasant's eye}.

Flora via Links. Click on the Links banner at the top of this page. Scroll down to relevant article. Click this is a direct link to the article{s}. Includes the series Past and Present medicinal Uses.

Flora via your search bar. Click on the relevant content banner above. Scroll down to the article you would like to view, Type into your search bar the shortened address given . This is a direct link to the article{s}. 

                                       Thank you for visiting