florida Early Detection Network


Wild chervil, cow parsley, bur chervil


Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffmann


Carrot family


Anthriscus sylvestris



Close-up of fruits





Synonyms: Chaerophyllum sylvestre L.


Botanical Glossary

Anthriscus sylvestris is an herbaceous biennal that grows up to 1 m (3.25 ft.) in height. The stems are hollow and covered in hairs. The plant has alternately arranged, compound, fern-like leaves. Each segment of the leaf can measure 1.5-5 cm (0.5-2 in.) in length. The umbels of this plant are large, having 6-15 rays that can reach up to 4 cm (1.5 in.) in length. Each of the bractlets is lance-ovate in shape and measures 3-6 mm (0.1-0.25 in.) in length. The flowers are white and have 5 notched petals. Anthriscus sylvestris blooms from May to June. The fruits are smooth, lanceolate in shape and measure 6 mm (0.25 in.) long. They have a pronounced beak that measures 1 mm (0.04 in.) long. The fruits start out green and turn brown as they ripen. Page References Fernald 1091, Gleason & Cronquist 372, Holmgren 347, Magee & Ahles 792. See reference section below for full citations.


Conioselinum chinense (L.) BSP (Chinese hemlockparsley), Conium maculatum L. (poison hemlock), Daucus carota L. (Queen Anne's Lace), Carum carvi L. (caraway). There are many other members of the carrot family that could be encountered in the wild and look similar to Anthriscus sylvestris. Fruits are necessary for the proper identification of these species.


Anthriscus sylvestris can reproduce both by seed and by vegetative means. Vegetatively, it makes use of aggressive, fast spreading taproots that have lateral root buds capable of sprouting new plants. Its seeds appear to be transported by vehicles, particularly when it is mowed after seed set. There are also reports of the seeds of this plant being moved by wind.


Anthriscus sylvestris is native to Europe. In the U.S. it is distributed in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and midwestern states. It is found as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. It is also located in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and in British Columbia. It has been reported in all of the states of New England. It appears to be most problematic in central Vermont.


Anthriscus sylvestris may have been introduced to North America as part of a wildflower seed mix that aimed to recreate the typical wildflowers of British hedgerows. Robinson (1908) did not note its presence in New England. It was reported to have naturalized in the Stony Brook Preserve of Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1919 (Rhodora 1919, volume 24: pg 92). Fernald (1950) reported that it had naturalized in fields and waste places from Newfoundland, Quebec and Montreal to New Jersery.


Abandoned Field, Agricultural Field, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Yard or Garden. Anthriscus sylvestris grows well in rich moist soils and is most commonly found along roadsides, meadows and pastures. It is particularly problematic in hayfields and pastures in central Vermont.


Anthriscus sylvestris may be transported by vehicles, particularly those used to mow it down after it has set seed, as well as people, animals and wind. Since it is tall and grows aggressively, it may outcompete native vegetation by forming extensive stands resulting in shading of other species, and by utilizing resources more effectively.


Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board

Weeds BC


Documentation required: Herbarium specimen or mounted snippet of a branch with leaves, flowers or fruits. Best time for documentation: Late spring, summer.


Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Taxonomic information about the species

The PLANTS database - General information and map

University of Vermont Extension - An article about this plant in Vermont

Wisconsin State Herbarium - Image and brief description of this plant in Wisconsin

Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board - A fact sheet with a description and images

Weeds BC - A fact sheet

Field Guide to Noxious and Other Selected Weeds of British Columbia - Brief description and images

The Herald of Randolph, Vermont - A News article (July 2000)


Dlussky, G.M. 1998. Mechanisms of competition for pollinators in Anthriscus sylvestris Hoffm. and Aegopodium podagraria L. (Apiaceae). Zhurnal Obshchei Biologii 59 (1): 24-44.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th ed. American Book Co., Boston.

Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York

Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Hansson, M.L. 1994. Response of Anthriscus sylvestris (L) Hoffm. to defoliation and different nitrogen supply levels. Swedish Journal of Agricultural Research 24 (1): 21-29.

Hansson, M.L., T.S. Persson. 1994. Anthriscus sylvestris - a growing conservation problem. Annales Botanici Fennici 31 (4): 205-213.

Hansson, M.L., A. Goransson. 1993. Growth and biomass partitioning of Anthriscus sylvestris (L) Hoffm. and Festuca ovina (L) at different relative addition rates of nitrogen. Plant and Soil 156: 187-190.

Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Rew, L.J., R.J. FroudWilliams, and N.D. Boatman. 1996. Dispersal of Bromus sterilis and Anthriscus sylvestris seed within arable field margins. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 59 (1-2): 107-114.

USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (//plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.