The Parsley family has a rich history and can be linked to some interesting aspects of humanity. This family, mostly herbs, can be found in northern temperate regions and in tropical highlands located throughout the world. It is one of the largest families of flowering plants, having around 300 genera and 2,500 to 3,000 species. The family is defined by its distinctive umbrella-like inflorescence, the umbel, where its alternate name is derived, Umbelliferae. Its many uses make this family an important one in the kitchen and for medicinal uses. Many of the species contained in this family are biennial, producing vegetables that can be eaten by humans. However, some are extremely poisonous, among them are the hemlocks from the genera Cicuta and Conium. The most obvious and distinctive feature of this family is the cluster of many small flowers, either a simple or compound umbel. The flowers are very uniform with most of the family’s variation being with the leaves and fruits. Each flower is mostly small, regular to somewhat irregular, 5-merous but the calyx segments are sometimes reduced or even absent. Number of petals is 5, stamens 5, all these parts are attached at top of the ovary. The leaves of the Apiaceae may be small to large, alternate or opposite, herbaceous, leathery, or fleshy, stalked or not, simple or compound, pinnately- or palmately divided. The fruits split into 2 halves, each is 1-seeded.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Parsley Family