Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wild Chervil

Anthriscus sylvestris

NL: Fluitenkruid /F: Cerfeuil sauvage

Wild chervil or cow parsley is found covering wide areas wherever humans have not worked out the land. Leaves and seeds are all edible, raw or cooked and its taste  is stronger than that from garden chervil, similar to carrot leaves. Young leaves taste much milder, somewhat between parsley and fennel. The root is also edible and it is said to be a general tonic, where soaked for several days in rice water (water from washing the rice), and then cooked with other vegetables.

This plant has poisonous look-alikes, such as hemlock   (Conium maculatum or Cicuta spp.) and fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium). One of the distinguishing features between them being that wild chervil has stout, pale green furrowed and slightly hairy stems. In contrast fools' parsley has thin, hairless ribbed and hollow stems. 

Hemlock has stout, smooth stems that are often (not always!) purple-spotted. Please, do not count only on these identification criteria and if you're going to pick wild chervil always take a proper field guide with you and look at the leaves and flowers as well as the stems. Other, most “innocent” look alike plants are yarrow, wild carrot, sweet cicely, angelica and valerian

Cow parsley has three or four subspecies and about 15 different varieties. Studies have shown that the plant contains chemical compounds which have been reported to have anti-proliferative, anti-tumor, and anti- viral activities against human cancer cells.

The root from Anthriscus sylvestris has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat fractures, contusions, strains, cough, bronchitis and asthma due to lung weakness. 

Here are some videos that help identify and differentiate cow's parsley from hemlock and from fool’s parsley:

More on Wild chervil:

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