Did you know that it’s possible to identify plants in the parsley family with just a handful of easy-to-spot growth patterns?
The parsley family is a large and common group of plants. Some of them are highly edible and nutritious while others are very poisonous.
For this reason, the parsley family is one of the best to know for survival and general wildcrafting purposes.
Luckily you won’t have to learn dozens of different species in order to recognize these special herbs in the field. Actually it just comes down to a handful of easy identification features.
Here’s a video I made to show how to identify an herb of the parsley family:
Here’s A List Of Plants In The Parsley Family:
- Cow Parsnip
- Poison Hemlock
- Giant Hogweed
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Curly Leaf Parsley, Italian Parsley, etc.
It’s very important to properly identify poison hemlock and this article from the King County government does a great job of showing ID features to look for like purplish blotches on the stem.
This is by no means a complete list. There’s a lot more plants to go on this list, but this will get you started. The latin name for this family is Apiaceae or Umbelliferae.
My Favourite Book About Botany…
Want to learn more about plant families?
There’s a really great book I always recommend called Botany In A Day.
This is my favourite resource for people getting started, as well as advanced practitioners of observing plant patterns.
The following video was created by Thomas J. Elpel.
He’s the author of Botany In A Day, and he very clearly explains why it’s often more helpful to know the family of a plant than the name of a plant.
Here’s his Botany In A Day tutorial…
I found that learning about plant families was an extremely valuable tool and helped to speed up my ability to learn about local plants & herbs.
Botanical patterns give you an easy way to learn about plants without becoming overwhelmed by all the individual species.
If you learn to observe plants according to their family groupings then by the time you hit the field guides you already have a pretty good idea of which plant family you might be dealing with.
Knowing the plant families will also give you instant insight about possible edible, medicinal or toxic properties even if you have no idea what species you’re looking at.
There are plant families (like the mint family for example) that are almost always useful for edible or medicinal purposes. (Wondering how to get started with wild edible plants?)
I still always recommend knowing the species of a plant before using an unfamiliar herb!
But botany in a day will help you sift & sort through things much faster, so you can find the useful plants (and avoid the toxic ones).
In addition to having edible qualities, the parsley family also plays an important role in the big picture of a landscape.
Let’s talk about Parsley ecology…
The Parsley Family & Ecology
I mentioned in the video that the parsley family is a prolific attractor of beneficial insects…
Don’t underestimate the power of insects, and the power of plants that attract insects!
Insects have an important job to do for the big picture of a landscape and they’re a major indicator of ecological health in a landscape
Beneficial insects help to control pest populations and pollinate nearby flowers to increase genetic diversity and fruit development.
This benefits both wild systems as well as human-made food production.
Insects are an abundant renewable food source for larger animals and even have been shown to provide transportation for beneficial soil bacteria from one part of a landscape to another.
I often see members of the parsley family growing in disturbed areas like ditches and the sides of roadways as pioneer species.
Their roots colonize damaged soils and help to prepare the land for succession to a more mature and fertile system.
And there’s more!
The plants themselves are also a great food source for wildlife. If you’re into wildlife tracking or ecological conservation like I am then you can’t ignore the carrot family!
I’ve watched herbivores like deer and groundhogs eating the young greens of carrot & curly parsley. I suspect they would do the same for wild members of the carrot family.
If you want to learn more about how to observe cool landscape patterns that help you make predictions about nature go check out my free video training called, How To Read The Secrets Of A Forest 🙂
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