Sunday, 9 June 2013

Pignut - a smaller version of Cow Parsley

The Pignut grows happily and modestly in woods and in grassland. It is a bit like the Cow Parsley, which crowds along roadsides and in woods at this same time of year
but a much smaller, neater plant, and scattered about the place rather than jostling together.
The pignut has a tiny wiry leaf at each joint in the stem but the Cow Parsley has a more ferny leaf on the stem and big ferny leaves all around.
  Pignut wiry leaf                              Cow Parsley ferny leaf
It's called a pignut because there is a little tuber underground on the root, about the size and flavour of a hazel nut.  Pigs like these and humans can safely eat them too.
There are a lot of wild flowers in this, the carrot family, that look very similar.  These sprays of white flowers are called 'umbels', a bit like upside-down umbrellas, so the family members are sometimes called 'umbellifers'. When you learn to distinguish them you find that the meadows are more rich and varied than you thought. 

Pignut flower umbels are round and neat, whereas Cow Parsley is more haphazard and asymmetric because the petals are different lengths.

Pignut neat                                               Cow Parsley Blousy
Pignut plants grow singly or in scattered groups
But Cow Parsley is more gregarious.  The rest of the pictures are of Cow Parsley.
It's also known as Queen Anne's Lace

This is up in the little wood near the viewpoint 

Cow Parsley likes to grow alongside hedges too.

It may be untidy but it's luxuriousness and abundance is a joy.

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