Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

This is our first day back in the UK and I'm amazed by change. The dandelion blossoms that choked our lawn are gone and the forsythia and daffodils have passed. Yellows have been replaced by whites.

Most prominent in this rural landscape is the cow parsley. It borders almost every sunny lane. It's not a particularly beautiful plant but it's remarkable how quickly it grew from nothing noticable (when we left 3 weeks ago) to waist high. At first, I thought it might be Queen Anne's Lace but it didn't look exactly as I remembered from the US.

Queen Anne's Lace, in the US, is another name for wild carrot or Daucus carota (see illustration). The head of the flower is like an umbrella when the wind's caught it, turning it inside out. the stalk is usually straight, the leaves divided. The plant I'm seeing now, in the UK, is very similar but from an entirely different family.

Queen Anne's Lace, here in the UK and according to Collins Nature Guide, is another name for cow parsley or Anthriscus sylvestris.
The stems branch, with a set of leaves emerging from each crook. The leaves have sharp edges but are not divided. It's a shaggy bit of a plant growing along the roadsides and rail lines. Not beautiful to me but endearing to others.

Leaves of the common carrot

Common carrot leaves

Cow parsley leaves

Cow parsley leaves

So you see, my first guess of Queen Anne's Lace was, in a weird and twisted way, correct after all.

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