Family: Apiaceae (carrot)
Common Name: Cow Parsley, Wild Chervil
Cow parsley is an edible herb in the carrot family, which means it can closely resemble poison hemlock and other toxic plants. Anyone gathering this plant should be very familiar with this family and all its relatives, as many are delicious while others are deadly. Other important considerations (as with all edge species) are whether this plant has been treated with poisonous herbicides or grew near polluted areas like train tracks (creosote). Cow Parsley is a bioaccumulator, which means it serves to clean and filter toxins and pollutants from the environment but can accumulate these poisons in its roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds.
Key features of this plant include:
-Blushing at the joints that resembles intentional purple/pink paint strokes (NOT BLOTCHES)
-Hairy stems (look closely at the joints in the picture above - they have very fine hairs or fuzz)
-Delicious roots, similar to a carrot but white or cream-coloured. Harvest roots in the cool temperatures of the early spring or late fall when they are the sweetest and most tender.
- Young leaves make a lovely potherb
- Spring stem shoots are tender, hollow, and tasty. They pickle very well and could double as a straw in a caesar!
-Flowers are a lovely, edible garnish
-Seed pods are a carrot/celery-like spice. Dry and add to your caesar rim
Cow Parsley is an opportunistic weed. Pictured above, it is growing at the base of Japanese Knotweed rhizomes. If you look really closely you might be able to make out some aggressive hop shoots who have been treating this invader's land like a nursery. All three (cow parsley, knotweed, hop shoots) are edible, invasive, and very tasty. Again, be mindful of any herbicide treatment because these plants are usually demonized by cities and gardeners alike.