Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffmann
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Anthriscus sylvestris is a
herbaceous biennial short-lived
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 an introduced adventive
in various locations in eastern United States and a few places in Washington;
it has been introduced in the Montréal area
around the 1920; it is now naturalized.
Anthriscus sylvestris probably arrived in North America as a
component of British wildflower seed mixes which were used to recreate the
floral meadows of Britain.
The plant has a hollow, glabrous to
sparsely soft-hairy stem, at times purple; it grows to a height of between
60 to 170 cm, branching to umbels of small
The plant grows from a a thick,
tuberous taproot that can extend over 6
feet into the soil and spread rapidly.
Anthriscus sylvestris is a very variable
some botanists split the species into four
The number of chromosomes of
Anthriscus sylvestris (2n) is 16.
The species belongs to the
- Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. alpina
- Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. fumarioides
- Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. nemorosa
- Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. sylvestris
Anthriscus: from the Greek and Latin name for another but unidentified plant
In classical Greek,
(anthryskon) is referred to by Athenaeus, of Naucratis in Egypt,
a Greek rhetorician and grammarian who flourished about the end of the 2nd and
beginning of the 3rd century AD. He wrote the Deipnosophistae, an
immense store-house of information. The plant has been tentatively identified
as Anthriscus sylvestris.
In Latin, Anthriscum is referred to by Plinius Secundus (Pliny the
Elder), 23 AD - 70 AD (he died on August 25, AD 79 during the famed eruption of
Mount Vesuvius that also destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum), he
was a naturalist and naval and military commander;
he refers to the plant Anthriscum in his Naturalis Historia
(Natural History) (21, 89) and has been identified as some sort of
In Latin, one of the meaning of sylvestris, most often written
silvestris is that leaves in forests; that is somewhat the
case of Anthriscus sylvestris although it is also found in
abandoned fields, agricultural fields, edges, open disturbed areas, pastures,
yards or gardens.
Some of the vernacular names of
Anthriscus sylvestris in North America are Cow Parsley, Wild Chervil,
Beak-chervil, Wild Beaked Parsley, and Keck.
Its French names are Anthrisque des bois, Persil sauvage
and Chérophylle sauvage.
Anthriscus sylvestris has also been known as:
- Anthriscus aemula (Woronow) Schischk.
- Anthriscus anatolica Boiss.
- Anthriscus fumarioides (Waldst. & Kit.) Spreng.
- Anthriscus macrocarpa Boiss. & Heldr.
- Anthriscus mollis Boiss. & Reuter in Boiss.
- Anthriscus nemorosa (M. Bieb.) Spreng.
- Anthriscus procera Besser
- Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm. subsp. aemula
- Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm. var. aemula Woronow
- Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm. var. nemorosa
(M. Bieb.) Trautv.
- Anthriscus yunnanensis W. W. Sm.
- Chaerofolium sylvestre (L.) Schinz & Thell.
- Chaerophyllum affine Steud.
- Chaerophyllum alpinum Vill.
- Chaerophyllum alpinum Vill.
- Chaerophyllum ghilanicum Stapf & Wettst.
- Chaerophyllum lactescens Rochel ex Steud.
- Chaerophyllum lucidum Desf.
- Chaerophyllum nemorosum M. Bieb.
- Chaerophyllum nemorosum M. Bieb.
- Chaerophyllum sylvestre L.
- Cicutaria vulgaris H. Koch
- Myrrhis chaerophylloides
- Myrrhis sylvestris (L.) Spreng.
- Myrrhodes nemorosum (M. Bieb.) Kuntze
- Myrrhodes sylvestris (L.) Kuntze
- Oreochorte yunnanensis (W. W. Sm.) Koso-Pol.
- Scandix fumarioides Waldst. & Kit.
- Scandix nemorosa (M. Bieb.) Hornem.
- Selinum cicutaria E. H. L. Krause in Sturm
Anthriscus sylvestris is identified by its:
Anthriscus sylvestris can be mistaken for the similar-looking
Conium maculatum (Poison hemlock) and
Aethusa cynapium (Fool's parsley) that are both poisonous, though
the later is less so than the former; but the leaves of Aethusa cynapium
are less divided than those of Anthriscus sylvestris and the fruits of
Conium maculatum are globular not
oblong as the fruits of
- fern-like leaves;
- hollow stems;
- compound umbels with rays of the same length;
- white flowers.
- basal and
- bipinnate or
with small ultimate segments;
- coarsely serrate;
- 15 to 30 cm long;
- gradually reduced upward;
- with a triangular outline.
Each plant has both hermaphrodite and male
flowers, often with a ratio of 4 male flowers to one hermaphrodite flower.
Each hermaphrodite flower produces 2 joined seeds with small antenna-like
structures at the top.
- on an umbel inflorescence,
from 2 to 6 cm diameter,
with 4 to 10 primary glabrous rays that are 1.5 to 3 cm
long, the inflorescence with a gently curving surface,
borne opposite the upper leaves;
- the umbellets with 3 to 7 flowers;
- without bracts but with
4 to 6 bracteoles per umbellet;
- small, around 3 to 4 mm across;
- creamy white;
- with 5 petals, slightly notched or unnotched;
- the outer flowers have with petals larger, the inner flowers with
all petals same size;
- blooming form mid-spring to early summer in my area,
25 km north of Montréal.
- 5 to 7 mm long including the 1 mm long beak;
- starting out green and turning black;
Anthriscus sylvestris grows under a range of conditions but thrives in
wet-to-moist disturbed sites, especially where soils are rich; it is found
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.
Anthriscus sylvestris distributed in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and
midwestern states of the USA. It is found as far south as Tennessee and North
Carolina. It is also located in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
In Canada, it is found in British Columbia in the west and in Ontario, Québec,
Newfoundland and Nova-Scotia in the East. It has been reported in all of the
states of New England. It appears to be most problematic in central Vermont.
It should carry on spreading. The maps shows (up to 2008) the USA states and
Canadian provinces where the plant can be found.
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.
Anthriscus sylvestris is sufficiently common and fast-growing to be
considered a nuisance weed in gardens. Its 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. The state of Vermont has listed
Anthriscus sylvestris on its Watch List of
invasive species while
Massachusetts and Washington have banned the sale of the plant.
It competes with pasture and hay crops and livestock will graze it only when
it is young. It acts as a host for a viral disease that infects other plants in
the same family, such as carrots, parsnips, and celery. It is difficult to
control because of its very deep root system and tolerance to herbicides. Since
this weed is well adapted to ditches and moist woods, native riverbank plant
communities are at risk.
Anthriscus sylvestris is considered to be edible, though having a
somewhat unpleasant flavour, sharper than
Anthriscus cerefolium (Garden Chervil),
with a hint of Daucus carota (The Carrot).
Anthriscus sylvestris is rumored to be a natural mosquito repellent
when applied directly to the skin. However it can be confused with
Giant Hogweed (Giant Hogweed), the sap of which can cause severe
burns after coming in contact with the skin.
The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following:
Minolta DiMAGE 7, Canon PowerShot A530,
Canon Xt Rebel, usually with the EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM objective,
Fujifilm A 610 and EPSON Perfection 1650 (scanner).
The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken,
i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of
January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.
The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter which I use
to identify the system used to take the picture.
Click on the thumbnails to get larger view.
The original photos are usually in TIFF format,
the photos shown are generally in JPEG format,
often of dimensions one half (surface one quarter)
for loading time reduction.
The leaves on the picture at left were scanned at 300 dpi,
this allows to measure the dimensions of the leaves.