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Anthriscus sylvestris (L) Hoffm.       Cow Parsley


Anthriscus :
from Greek, Theophrastus.
sylvestris : of the woods/wild.

Chaerophyllum sylvestre (L).

OTHER NAMES : mother die, queque, blackman’s tobacco. Adder’s meat, rabbit meat,
cowchervil, oldrot, gipsy curtains, gipsy flower, gipsy laces, gipsy’s umbrella, gipsy’s parsley,
hare’s parsley, june flower, lady’s lace, scabs, (Som). Cow—weed, (Ess). Honitan lace,
rabbit meat, (Dev). Needlework, (Glos). Coney parsley, rabbit meat, (Suss) . Devil’s oatmeal,
(Surr). Devil ‘s parsley, kadle dock, (Ches). Moonlight, (Wilts). Rabbit— food, (Bucks) Eldor,
eltrot, my lady’s lace, Queen Anne’s lace, (Dor). Naughty man’s oatmeal, rabbit meat, sweet ash,
(War). Magweed, (Wore). Sheep—parsley, (Kent, Norf). Cow mumble, (Ess, Camb, Norf).
Kedlock, (Derb). Kelk, (Wilts, Suss, Kent, Surr, Yks, Dur, N’thum). Wild Parsley, (Lines, Rad).
Cicely, (Derb, Lines). Badman’s oatmeal, bun, devil’s meat. cisweed. white meat, whiteweed,
(Yks) . Kesk, linces, kewsies, scab flower, (Cumb). Ciss, (Lancs). Da—ho, keeshi.on,
(N. Ire). Ha—ho, hi—how, (Ire) . Dell ‘s meat, (Scot). Wild Caraway, (Banff) . Dog’s carvi,
(Shet). Handkjeks, dog’s keks, (Norway).

BSBI Picture Link to Anthriscus sylvestris


TYPE : hairy, annual. Perennates by rooting buds in axils of basal leaves. Hs.
HEIGHT : 60—150cm. AROMA : Distinct. ROOTS : Tuberous.
STEM: hollow, furrowed, downy below, glabrous top.
UMBELS : 2—6mm. Terminal, compound with (3) 6—12 glabrous rays, 1.5—3cm
long. Peduncle = rays, glabrous. Umbels droop in bud. Terminal : male firs in middle
of partial umbel, surrounded by hermaphrodites. Lateral male, overtop terminal.
LEAVES : 30cm, 3—pinnate, pubescent lowest primary divisions, < than the leaf. Lobes
10—30mm, pinnatifid, serrate. In S.England lvs have appressed hairs on upper surface,
giving a pale green matt appearance. In N England : glabrous, dark green, shiny. Lf. less in
Summer, new leaves in Autumn. Cotyledons tapered at base, no petiole.
BRACTS : absent. Bracteoles 4—6, 2—5mm, ovate, aristate, ciliate, patent or deflexed, pink.
FLOWERS : 3—4mm. Creamy white. Sepals minute. Pedicels = bracteoles,
elongating in fruit. Styles forming stylopodium. Fl. 4—6.
FRUIT : 6—9 mm, oblong ovoid, smooth. Constricted commisure. Mericarps smooth. with
v. short, ridged beak. Carpophore present. Vittae solitary. Pedicels with ring of stout hairs
at the apex. Styles > than the stylopodium, divergent, slender. Stigma capitate. 2n=16*

HABITAT : hedgerows, wood margins, waste places, meadows, orchards.

DISTRIBUTION : native. <750m. Common in Britain. Europe, rare in
S. Temperate Asia. N. Africa. Introduced N. America.
BSBI Distribution Map for Anthriscus sylvestris (UK)


Very resistant to herbicides. Eagerly eaten by herbivores, especially rabbit.


Children used hollow stems as pea shooters.

Reginald Scot ‘Discoverie Of Witchcraft’ Wrote of, ‘witches.. .
who had hogs dung and charvil about them.”

The name Queen Anne's Lace: from time when Queen Anne travelled the country side in May,
around Kensington, as she suffered from asthma, & came to get fresh air. The roadsides were
said to have been decorated for her by this plant. As she & the ladies in waiting walked, they carried
lace pillows, the Cow Parsley resembled the lace.

EXTERNAL LINKS FOR Anthriscus sylvestris

These links to trusted websites and institutions may provide in depth or additional information regards cultivation, chemistry, edibility, images etc. for the species. Links last updated Aug 2012.

Wikipedia (EU)    Plants For a Future (UK)    Nature Gate
Bio Info (UK)     BIO Images (UK)    APHOTOFLORA    Private Blog (IND)

'Online Guide To Umbelliferae Of The British Isles' Compiled By J.M.Burton 2002