Species Of The Week Number 37: Cow Parsley

Possibly the most abundant flowering plant in Meanwood right now, Cow Parsley is a classic plant of the English countryside. However there is more to this plant than meets the eye.

Cow Parsley has fern-like leaves and small white flowers arranged in umbrella-shaped clusters called umbels. The umbels consist of multiple individual flowers, each with five delicate petals. Also known as Wild Chervil, it is commonly found in meadows, hedgerows, and along roadsides.

After the flowers are fertilised, Cow Parsley produces small, flat fruits called schizocarps. These schizocarps will split into two parts, releasing the seeds within. The seeds are then dispersed by wind helping the plant colonise new areas.

It is a larval food source for the caterpillars of the Orange-tip butterfly and attracts other pollinators including bees and hoverflies and overall is an important part of the biodiversity of the Meanwood Valley.

This all sounds lovely and bucolic doesn't it? However...

Whilst is native to Europe it has been introduced to other parts of the world including North America where nasty Cow Parsley can become invasive, outcompeting native plant species and disrupting ecosystems. Cow Parsley sales are actually illegal in Massachusetts and it has attained the status of 'noxious weed' in Washington.

It is visually appealing - but also technically edible. The leaves and young stems can be eaten raw or cooked, with a flavour similar to - surprise surprise - Parsley. Sounds yummy? DO NOT EAT IT! Cow Parsley is very similar to the deadly poisonous Hemlock so - unless you want to risk tremors, paralysis, breathing difficulties, muscle damage and kidney failure - leave it well alone.

One person's innocent flower is another person's deathly invader it would seem.

Publicado el 07 de junio de 2023 por clunym clunym


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