Cows and Hogs

30 Jan

A few posts ago I uploaded a shot of a dried umbellifer and a clever soul asked if the plant was cow parsley or hogweed. Interested (but clueless) myself, I searched through my files and found this picture of said umbellifer in early summer…well, it’s not the exact plant but it was growing in the same spot, so I am sure it counts…

I am sure the owner of the garden couldn’t possibly have hogweed in her patch, even if this was growing beside a little stream.  As a bit of a smart Alec To be certain, I dug out an old copy of Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, which I gather has been a favoured pocket guide ever since it was published by Collins in 1974.

Shouldn’t have done that…do you know how many types of white umbellifer there are? Dozens, I tell you. Quite simply, dozens, and I am afraid I am barely any wiser. So, any suggestions? Could it be lesser water parsnip? Fool’s watercress, wild celery or even fine-leaved dropwort?


Oh blimey…Angelica? Or even hemlock? Impossible!


Pignuts, shepherd’s needle and moon carrot…

And, last page…or, first page, actually. Realise I’ve uploaded these in the wrong order.


Am intrigued to see that caraway and coriander count as wild flowers. Coriander appears to be native to southern Europe which makes me wonder if it was introduced to England by the Romans, along with central heating, straight roads and the cultivated apple. Or was it brought over in early European trade? These days it seems to be used almost exclusively in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking but it would be interesting to find out if there were any Tudor recipes that called for coriander – either fresh or dried.

But I digress. Hogweed, cow parsley or hemlock?


3 Responses to “Cows and Hogs”

  1. Marina B January 31, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Yes, you’re right! Impossible to tell the difference. How interesting to learn more about coriander. I’m always wondering what Indians did before the potato and the chilli became integral to their diets. And now coriander!

  2. Maureen H February 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Could this have been Chervil? I fancy the owner of this garden uses herbs, both culinary and medicinal. The writer Jekka McVicar says that young chervil plants can be confused with cow parsley, but chervil is annual or biennial, whereas cowparsley is a perennial and has larger leaves. Does that help?

    • Vivienne March 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      No! These plants are in part of a garden that isn’t regualarly tended, so perhaps a biennial?

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