Wild chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris) grows in sunny to semi-shaded locations in meadows, at the edges of hedgerows and woodland, and by the roadside. Wild chervil blooms from mid spring to early summer. It is an herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant in the family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), plants that bear their flowers in umbrella-like clusters.
The related garden chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a smaller plant with delicate leaves. Link to ingredient Chervil.
Wild Chervil is edible with a flavor that is similar to carrots and parsley. When crushed, wild chervil smells sweet and carrot-like.
Wild chervil has a more bitter flavor than garden chervil, to which it is related. As with garden chervil, cooks primarily use wild chervil to season soups, salads, and sauces.
Chervil leaves are one of the first plants that are harvested in the spring, which is why they are traditionally used in Easter dishes. You can steam wild chervil leaves and use them as a wild vegetable.
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Chervil contains essential volatile oils which determine the flavor of the plant. Wild chervil also contains bitter compounds, glycosides, carotene, vitamin C, and relatively large amounts of iron and magnesium.
Dangers / Intolerances:
Cow parsley can be mistaken for several similar-looking poisonous plants, among them poison hemlock and fool's parsley ... Cow parsley can be confused with giant cow parsley/giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the sap of which can cause severe burns after coming in contact with the skin.1
Pregnant women should avoid using wild chervil in any form as it contains compounds that can induce uterine contractions.2
Use as a medicinal plant:
Wild chervil has been used in various folk medicines. It is used as a digestive aid, to treat colds and coughs, and for lowering high blood pressure. It reportedly has been used for wound treatment due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Other medicinal uses include using wild chervil to treat cancer, kidney stones, and cystitis.1,2
Cultivation and harvest:
Wild chervil has become naturalized across much of North America. Cow parsley grows in sunny to semi-shaded locations in pastures, meadows, and abandoned fields. It is a particularly common sight by the roadside. Wild chervil is very difficult to control as it grows rapidly through rhizomes and produces large quantities of seeds in a single growing season. It is classified as an invasive species in many areas of the United States, and the sale of plants is forbidden in some states.
These herbal plants are related to other plants from the Apiaceae family such as carrot, parsley, hogweed, and hemlock.
Wild chervil is related to cultivated chervil, an herb known as a flavoring for soups, salads, and sauces.
The plant is also known as cow parsley, wild beaked parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, and keck. Wild chervil is often called mother-die in the United Kingdom.
Be extremely careful when harvesting wild chervil. It is very similar in appearance to hemlock, which is poisonous. Use a field guide to help you identify wild chervil.
Cow parsley grows in sunny to semi-shaded locations in meadows and at the edges of hedgerows and woodland. It is a particularly common sight by the roadside. It is considered a nuisance weed in gardens because it spreads rapidly and is difficult to control.
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Anthriscus sylvestris, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Anthriscus_sylvestris
- Bhattacharya, Deepamala. “Cow Parsley.” Only Foods. https://www.onlyfoods.net/ cow-parsley.html.