The Carrot or Umbellifer Family and their uses!

Pignut is one of the Apiaceae, flowering en masse here at Bury Hill Park near Dudley (Picture by Mike Poulton)

I’ve always liked the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae as they were formerly known as! And everybody knows the carrot so it is also known as the Carrot family.

It is easily recognisable, especially the second subfamily, which are the true ‘Umbels’.

In another post the Ground-elder was fully described for all its useful attributes and this week I hope to tackle all the others in the last family of all the Dicot families in Stace. In another post the Medicinal properties of the Apiaceae are highlighted.

It is a large family with 50 genera and many genera have just the one native species or a few species. 

Several of our root vegetables and herbs belong to this family, although these are cultivated forms and the wild species of which they originated are mostly not native (NN in list below) to the British Isles.

I’ve used Wikipedia, PFAF or other websites a lot again as they have such valuable information about the individual species and their uses.

Also links with the online atlas of the British and Irish Flora of the Biological Records Centre in order to find out the natural habitats of the plants.

Medicinal Uses mostly came from the  Med Flora by J. Barker as well as from the Plants for a Future website.

Pictures with gratitude by Matt Summers, Mike Poulton and Wikipedia Commons.

FBBC is added behind the Common Name in the contents below if the plant occurs in the ‘Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country’


Identifying the Apiaceae or Carrot Family

Subfamily 1: Saniculoideae

Sanicula europaea  or Sanicle FBBC

Eryngium maritimum or Sea-holly

Subfamily 2: Apioidea

Chaerophyllum temulum or Rough Chervil FBBC

Anthriscus sylvestris or Cow Parsley, Wild Chervil or Wild Parsley FBBC

  • A. caucalis or Bur Chervil FBBC
  • A. cerefolium or Garden Chervil
  • Scandix  pecten-veneris or Shepard’s-needle FBBC

Myrrhis odorata or Sweet Cicely FBBC

  • Coriandrum sativum or Coriander FBBC

Smyrnium olusatrum or Alexander FBBC

  • Bunium bulbocastanum or Great Pignut

Conopodium majus or Pignut FBBC

Pimpinella saxifraga or Burnet-saxifrage FBBC

  • Pimpinella major  or Greater Burnet Saxifrage FBBC

Aegopodium podagraria or Ground Elder FBBC

Berula erecta or Lesser Water-parsnip FBBC

Crithmum maritimum or Rock Samphire

Seseli libanotis or Moon Carrot

Oenanthe spp. (7 native) Water-dropworts

  • Oenanthe fistulosa or Tubular Water-dropwort FBBC
  • O. pimpinelloides or Corky-fruited Water-dropwort FBBC
  • O. lachenallii or Parsley Water-dropwort FBBC
  • O. silaifolia or Narrow-leaved Water-dropwort
  • O. fluviatilis or River Water-dropwort

O. crocata or Hemlock Water-dropwort FBBC

O. aquatica or Fine leaved Water-dropwort FBBC

Aethusa cynapium or Fool’s Parsley FBBC

Foeniculum vulgare var. sativum or Fennel (Arch). FBBC

  • Anethum graveolens or Dill FBBC
  • Silaum silaus or Pepper-saxifrage FBBC

Meum athamanticum or Spignel

  • Physospermum cornubiense or Bladderseed

Conium maculatum or Hemlock FBBC

Bupleurum spp. or Hare’s-ears

  • Bupleurum rotundifoliumor Hare’s ear 
  • B. falcatum or Sickle-leaved Hare’s-ear
  • B. tenuissimum or Slender Hare’s-ear
  • B. baldense or Small Hare’s ear
  • B. subovatum or False Thorow-wax FBBC
  • Trinia glauca or Honewort
  • Cuminum cymimum 

Apium graveolens or Wild Celery FBBC

  • Helosciadium repens or Creeping Marshwort
  • H. nodiflorum or Fool’s -water-cress FBBC
  • H. inundatum or Lesser Marshwort FBBC
  • Trachyspermum ammi or Ajowan
  • Ridolfia segetum or False Fennel

Sison segetum or Corn Parsley

  • Sison amomum or Stone Parsley FBBC
  • Cicuta virosa or Cowbane
  • Ammi majus or Bullwort FBBC
  • Visnaga daucoides or Toothpick-plant FBBC
  • Falcaria vulgaris or Longleaf

Carum carvi or Caraway FBBC

  • Carum verticillatum or Whorled caraway
  • Selinum carvifolia or Cambridge Milk-parsley

Ligusticum scoticum or Scots Lovage

  • Levisticum officinale or Lovage FBBC

Angelica sylvestris or Wild Angelica FBBC

  • Angelica archangelica or Garden Angelica or Archangelica FBBC
  • Ferula communis or Giant Fennel

Peucedanum officinale or Hog’s Fennel

  • Imperatoria ostruthium or Masterwort & Imperatoria
  • Thysselinum palustre or Milk-parsley

Pastinaca sativa ssp. sylvestris or Wild Parsnip FBBC

Heracleum spondylium or Hogweed or Cow parsnip FBBC

  • H. mantegazzianum or Giant Hogweed FBBC
  • Tordylium maximum or Hartwort

Torilis spp. or Hedge-parsleys

  • Torilis japonica or Upright Hedge Parsley FBBC
  • T. nodosa or Knotted Hedge Parsley

Daucus carota ssp. carota or Wild Carrot FBBC

Petroselinum crispum or Garden Parsley FBBC

Anthriscus cerefolium or Garden Chervil



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