Not to be confused with giant cow parsley (Heracleum mantegazzianum) or French cow parsley (Orlaya grandiflora)
Anthriscus sylvestris, known as cow parsley,wild chervil,wild beaked parsley, or keck is a herbaceousbiennial 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 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.
Cow parsley can be mistaken for several similar-looking poisonous plants, among them poison hemlock and fool's parsley.
Cow parsley is considered to be edible, though having a somewhat unpleasant flavour, sharper than garden chervil, with a hint of carrot, to which it is related.
Cow parsley can be confused with giant cow parsley/giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the sap of which can cause severe burns after coming in contact with the skin.
The base of a second-year plant in September and a young layer (Warming 1884)
Synonyms: Chaerophyllum sylvestre L.
Anthriscus sylvestris is an herbaceous biennal that grows up to 1 m (3.25 ft.) in height. The stems are hollow and covered in hairs. The plant has alternately arranged, compound, fern-like leaves. Each segment of the leaf can measure 1.5-5 cm (0.5-2 in.) in length. The umbels of this plant are large, having 6-15 rays that can reach up to 4 cm (1.5 in.) in length. Each of the bractlets is lance-ovate in shape and measures 3-6 mm (0.1-0.25 in.) in length. The flowers are white and have 5 notched petals. Anthriscus sylvestris blooms from May to June. The fruits are smooth, lanceolate in shape and measure 6 mm (0.25 in.) long. They have a pronounced beak that measures 1 mm (0.04 in.) long. The fruits start out green and turn brown as they ripen. Page References Fernald 1091, Gleason & Cronquist 372, Holmgren 347, Magee & Ahles 792. See reference section below for full citations.
Conioselinum chinense (L.) BSP (Chinese hemlockparsley), Conium maculatum L. (poison hemlock), Daucus carota L. (Queen Anne's Lace), Carum carvi L. (caraway). There are many other members of the carrot family that could be encountered in the wild and look similar to Anthriscus sylvestris. Fruits are necessary for the proper identification of these species.
Anthriscus sylvestris can reproduce both by seed and by vegetative means. Vegetatively, it makes use of aggressive, fast spreading taproots that have lateral root buds capable of sprouting new plants. Its seeds appear to be transported by vehicles, particularly when it is mowed after seed set. There are also reports of the seeds of this plant being moved by wind.
Anthriscus sylvestris is native to Europe. In the U.S. it is distributed in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and midwestern states. It is found as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. It is also located in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and in British Columbia. It has been reported in all of the states of New England. It appears to be most problematic in central Vermont.
HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND
Anthriscus sylvestris may have been introduced to North America as part of a wildflower seed mix that aimed to recreate the typical wildflowers of British hedgerows. Robinson (1908) did not note its presence in New England. It was reported to have naturalized in the Stony Brook Preserve of Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1919 (Rhodora 1919, volume 24: pg 92). Fernald (1950) reported that it had naturalized in fields and waste places from Newfoundland, Quebec and Montreal to New Jersery.
HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND
Abandoned Field, Agricultural Field, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Yard or Garden. Anthriscus sylvestris grows well in rich moist soils and is most commonly found along roadsides, meadows and pastures. It is particularly problematic in hayfields and pastures in central Vermont.
Anthriscus sylvestris may be transported by vehicles, particularly those used to mow it down after it has set seed, as well as people, animals and wind. Since it is tall and grows aggressively, it may outcompete native vegetation by forming extensive stands resulting in shading of other species, and by utilizing resources more effectively.
Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board
Documentation required: Herbarium specimen or mounted snippet of a branch with leaves, flowers or fruits. Best time for documentation: Late spring, summer.
Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Taxonomic information about the species
The PLANTS database - General information and map
University of Vermont Extension - An article about this plant in Vermont
Wisconsin State Herbarium - Image and brief description of this plant in Wisconsin
Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board - A fact sheet with a description and images
Weeds BC - A fact sheet
Field Guide to Noxious and Other Selected Weeds of British Columbia - Brief description and images
The Herald of Randolph, Vermont - A News article (July 2000)
Dlussky, G.M. 1998. Mechanisms of competition for pollinators in Anthriscus sylvestris Hoffm. and Aegopodium podagraria L. (Apiaceae). Zhurnal Obshchei Biologii 59 (1): 24-44.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th ed. American Book Co., Boston.
Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York
Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Hansson, M.L. 1994. Response of Anthriscus sylvestris (L) Hoffm. to defoliation and different nitrogen supply levels. Swedish Journal of Agricultural Research 24 (1): 21-29.
Hansson, M.L., T.S. Persson. 1994. Anthriscus sylvestris - a growing conservation problem. Annales Botanici Fennici 31 (4): 205-213.
Hansson, M.L., A. Goransson. 1993. Growth and biomass partitioning of Anthriscus sylvestris (L) Hoffm. and Festuca ovina (L) at different relative addition rates of nitrogen. Plant and Soil 156: 187-190.
Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.
Rew, L.J., R.J. FroudWilliams, and N.D. Boatman. 1996. Dispersal of Bromus sterilis and Anthriscus sylvestris seed within arable field margins. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 59 (1-2): 107-114.
USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (//plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.