Apiaceae - Parsley Family
Contents English Names Index

The family Apiaceae 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
Lomatium cous - Cous' Biscuit-root
Hairless, 10-35 cm tall. Dry, open sites, foothills-montane.
Flowers yellow, in umbels with broad, rounded involucel bracts.
Leaves 3 times dvided into small, rounded segments. Edible.
Lomatium dissectum - Fern-leaved Biscuit-root
Robust plant, 50-150 cm tall. Open, slopes and dry meadows.
Flowers yellow, sometimes purplish, in umbels 10-20 cm wide.
Leaves dissected into fine segments. Edible and medicinal.
Angelica arguta - White Angelica
Robust plant, 25-200 cm tall, often ill-smelling. Moist areas.
Flowers white, in flat-topped clusters, without involucral bracts.
Leaves twice pinnately compound with broad leaflets
. Edible.
Heracleum maximum - Cow-parsnip
Coarse, hairy, 100-250 cm tall, strong-smelling. Moist areas.
Flowers white, with deeply lobed petals. Umbels 10-30 cm wide.
Leaves 10-30 cm wide, with 3 large, lobed leaflets.
Osmorhiza depauperata - Blunt-fruited Sweet-root
30-100 cm tall, branched and leafy near tips. Woodlands.
Flowers whitish, small, inconspicuous, in narrow umbels.
Leaves twice divided in 3's, the leaflets thin, broad. Edible.
Conium maculatum - Poison Hemlock
Stems tall, branched, purple-spotted. Moist, disturbed sites.
Flowers white, tiny, in numerous, flat-topped umbels.
Leaves divided 3-4 times into fine segments. Very poisonous.
Cymopterus nivalis - Snowline Spring-parsley
Hairless plant, 5-25 cm tall. Open, often rocky places.
Flowers greyish-white, tiny, in small umbels about 2 cm wide.
Leaves basal,
bluish, finely divided into slender, small lobes.
Perideridia gairdneri - Gairdner's Yampah
Slender, 40-120 cm tall. Woodlands and dry or wet meadows.
Flowers white, in 1-several long-stalked umbels, 2.5-7 cm wide.
Leaves divided into few long
segments. Edible and medicinal.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Parsley family:
Scientific Name English Name Swedish Name


Poison Hemlock
Biscuit root
Sweet Cicely
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