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Parsley Family

( Originally Published 1922 )



Wild or Field Parsnip; Madnep; Tank

Pastinaca saliva

Flowers—Dull or greenish yellow, small, without involuere or involueels; borne in 7 to 15 rayed umbels, 2 to 6 in. across. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. tall, stout, smooth, branching, grooved, from a long, conic, fleshy, strong-scented root. Leaves: Compounded (pinnately), of several pairs of oval, lobed, or cut sharply toothed leaflets; the petioled lower leaves often 12 ft. long.

Preferred Habitat—Waste places, roadsides, fields. Flowering Season—June—September. Distribution—Common throughout nearly all parts of the United States and Canada,Europe.

Men are not the only creatures who feed upon such of the umbel-bearing plants as are innocent—parsnips, celery, parsley, carrots, caraway, and fennel, among others; and even those which contain properties that are poisonous to highly organized men and beasts, afford harmless food for insects. Pliny says that parsnips, which were cultivated beyond the Rhine in the days of Tiberius, were brought to Rome annually to please the emperor's exacting palate, yet this same plant, which has overrun two continents, in its wild state (when its leaves are a paler yellowish green than under cultivation) often proves poisonous. A strongly acrid juice in the very tough stem causes intelligent cattle W let it alone—precisely the object desired.

Wild Carrot; Queen Anne's Lace; Bird's-nest

Daucus Carota

Flowers—Small, of unequal sizes (polygamous), white, rarely pinkish gray, 5-parted, in a compound,flat, circular, umbel, the central floret often dark crimson; the umbels very concave in fruit. An involucre of narrow, pinnately cut bracts. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, with stiff hairs; from a deep, fleshy, conic root. Leaves: Cut into fine, fringy divisions; upper ones smaller and less dissected. Preferred Habitat—Waste lands, fields, roadsides. Flowering Season—June—September. Distribution—Eastern half of United States and Canada. Europe and Asia.

A pest to farmers, a joy to the flower-lover, and a welcome signal for refreshment to hosts of flies, beetles, bees, and wasps, especially to the paper-nest builders, the sprangly wild carrot lifts its fringy foliage and exquisite lacy blossoms above the dry soil of three continents. From Europe it has come to spread its delicate wheels over our summer landscape, until whole fields are whitened by them east of the Mississippi. Having proved fittest in the struggle for survival in the fiercer competition of plants in the over-cultivated Old World, it takes its course of empire westward year by year, finding most favorable conditions for colonizing in our vast, uncultivated area; and the less aggressive, native occupants of our soil are only too readily crowded out. Would that the advocates of unrestricted immigration of foreign peasants studied the parallel examples among floral invaders !

Still another fiction is that the cultivated carrot, introduced to England by the Dutch in Queen Elizabeth's reign, was derived from this wild species., Miller, the celebrated English botanist and gardener, among many others, has disproved this statement by utterly failing again and again to produce an edible vegetable from this wild root. When cultivation of the garden carrot lapses for a few generations, it reverts to the ancestral type—a species quite distinct from Daucus Carota.



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