Apiaceae: Carrot Family – Woodland

Most members of the Apiaceae (carrot) family are characterized by having their flowers arranged in umbels, i.e. with segments radiating from a single point.  The family was formerly called Umbelliferae.  Many have compound umbels.  That is when an umbel contains multiple inflorescences, each of which is itself an umbel.  Umbels may be rounded, flat-topped or concentrated in head-like structures.  Most members of the family have white flowers.  Fennel, Lomatiums, most Sancicles and Tauschia all have yellow flowers.  This page shows plants found under or near trees.  Many of the leaves look similar, so look closely for differences in the fruits.

Bur-chervil – Anthriscus caucalis

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

40–90 cm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Waste & disturbed places

Notes:

Can be mistaken for Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum).  But this plant is smaller, its leaves are more feathery, and without the red blotches on the stems.  Note the ovoid fruit which have a beak about 1/3 of the body length, and small hooks which give the plant its common name.

Bowlesia – Bowlesia incana

Blooms:

Mar–Apr

Plant Height:

5–60 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded slopes

Notes:

This small, inconspicuous plant has tiny flowers.  It has distinctive, slightly geranium-like leaves and weak trailing stems. Fruits are up to 2 mm across, ovoid/spheric, and inflated.

Wood / Mountain Sweet Cicely – Osmorhiza berteroi

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

30–120 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded woods

Notes:

Very common shade-loving plant, which produces a loose umbel of tiny white flowers. Note that there are no bractlets at the base of the flowers/fruits and that the fruits each have a long pedicel.

California Sweet Cicely – Osmorhiza brachypoda

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

30–80 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded woods

Notes:

Less common than Wood Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza berteroi, see above). The flowers are greenish-yellow, and subtended by noticeable bracts, which remain when the fruits develop. Note that the pedicels of the fruits are very short and that the fruits themselves are shorter and fatter than those of Wood Sweet Cicely.

Shepherd’s Needle – Scandix pecten-veneris

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

15–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Mediterranean

Habitat:

Grassland & disturbed places

Notes:

The finely-dissected parsley-like leaves are distinctive.  Note the asymmetrical flowers with the longer outward-facing petal, and the long fruits which give the plant its common name.

 

Field Hedge-parsley – Torilis arvensis

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

30-100 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Europe

Invasive?

Yes – moderate

Habitat:

Woodland, disturbed places

Notes:

Easily confused with Bur Chervil (Anthriscus caucalis, see above).  This plant’s leaves tend to be narrower, the inflorescence is smaller, the flowers can sometimes be pinkish, and the hairs on the fruits are noticeably longer on one side of the fruit. Sometimes known — for good reason — as Tall Sock Destroyer.

Knotted Hedge-parsley – Torilis nodosa

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

10–70 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Open woodland

Notes:

The plant is similar in appearance to Field Hedge-parsley (Torilis arvensis, see above).  However, its inflorescence appears in sessile clusters in the nodes of the stems, and the fruits are bristly on only one side, the other side being smooth or pimply. Sometimes known as “Short Sock Destroyer”.

California Hedge-parsley – Yabea microcarpa

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

3–40 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open or shaded slopes

Notes:

This is less common than the two non-native Hedge-parsleys (Torilis sp. see above), and easily overlooked.  It is identified by its thread-like to linear, pinnately dissected leaves; and by its oblong fruits, slightly flattened front to back with hooks similar to those of the non-native Hedge-parsleys.