Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’
Will this biennial plant flower this year? Thanks!
Hello, We can never guarantee that a plant will flower in a particular year as this is mainly determined by external things like the available water, light and nutrients, however I would say there is an excellent chance that it will flower this year.
If the seed is collected or allowed to spread naturally, will the new plants remain the purple variety, or is it possible that ordinary cow parsley will appear?
Hello, If ‘Ravenswing’ is grown in isolation, there is a good chance that may of the seedlings will also have darker leaves, but inevitably some will not, so these will need to be thinned out as they appear.
It has appeared to me that some anthriscus have pink tinged flowers,is that due to the photos?
Hello, The Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing has creamy white flowers, but they are surrounded by small pink bracts.
as anthriscus sylvestris is a form of cow parsley does it have the same root formation ? it looks ideal for what I want but I’m not keen to plant anything quite as vigorous as the wild variety. Bronwen
Hello, This plant will colonise an area quite quickly if it is happy as although it is a biennial or a short-lived perennial, it can self-seed freely.
2006 Planting Chelsea Flower Show enquiry Hi, I see you have plants available for the current show, but do you have a plant list for the 2006 award winner (Daily Telegraph,Tom Stuart Smith) available as I am interested in buying some of these plants? Thank you for your time, Kelly
Hello Kelly, He did use a lot of plants in his garden – here is a list which includes most. Allium Purple Sensation Anthriscus Ravens Wing Aquilegia Ruby Port Astrantia Claret Carex testacea Cirsium rivulare atropurpureum Dahlia Dark Desire Euphorbia Fireglow Geranium Lily Lovell Geranium phaeum Samobor Geranium Phillipe Valpelle Geranium psilostemmon Geum Princess Juliana Gillenia trifoliata Hakonechloa macra Iris Dusky Challenger Iris Dutch Chocolate Iris Sultan’s Palace Iris Superstition Iris Supreme Sultan Knautia macedonica Lavandula angustifolia Nepeta subsessilis Washfield Nepeta Walkers low Purple fennel – Giant Bronze Rodgersia pinnata Superba Rodgersia podophylla Salvia Mainacht Sedum matrona Stachys byzantina Stipa arundinacea (syn.Anemanthele lessoniana) Stipa gigantea Tulip Abu Hassan Tulip Ballerina Tulip Queen of Night Verbascum Helen Johnston I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor
How to prune Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ I purchased an Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ plant from you 1 or 2 years ago and it has flowered really well this year. The flowers are now running to seed and I am not sure what to do with it. It has no leaves at the base, only at stem junctions. Should I cut the flower heads off, cut it back further, or leave it alone? I lost a previous plant, possibly by cutting it hard back, so I am a bit wary of making another mistake! any advice would be very helpful. Carole
Hello Carole,These plants are often quite short-lived, so your previous plant may simply have died of natural causes. They usually self seed though, which encourages more plants to follow on in subsequent years. If you want your plant to self-seed, then leave the spent flowerheads on until it has released its seeds in late summer or autumn. After that the plant should be cut back to just above ground level and a generous layer of mulch applied around the root area.
Size- H: 90cm W:60cm approx.
Position- Full Sun, Partial Shade
Seed Count- 30 approx.
Anthriscus sylvestris – Stunning, rich deep purple, almost black, finely cut fern like foliage, resembling the colour of a ‘Ravenswing’. An impressive contrast foliage plant in its first year and in the second year airy umbels of white flowers are held above the dark foliage to 90cm. Both foliage and flowers are excellent cutting and often used as filler flowers. Enjoys full sun to light shade in humus rich well drained soil. This hardy perennial will self seed freely if spent flower heads are left. Wonderful contrast plant. 90cm x 60cm.
Anthriscus seed can be sown at any time. Sow seed into good quality compost or seed raising mix. Cover with river sand or compost to seeds own depth. If sown directly into ground seed may not germinate until it dormancy is broken by a period of chilling. (Winter) Moist seed tray can be placed in fridge at 4 degrees C in a plastic bag for 4 weeks then kept at on gentle heat of 15-20 degrees C. Germination may take 8 to 10 weeks. Transplant seedlings directly into garden as they have a long tap root which can be damaged when transplanted.
Back in February I posted a recipe for cow parsley soup. Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is also known as ‘wild chervil’, and whilst I quite like it, I know isn’t for everyone. But the important thing to be aware of with cow parsley is that it can be mistaken for hemlock (Conium maculatum). Some of you might remember from history that the Greek philosopher Socrates was executed by consuming a hemlock derived drink – it’s highly poisonous so you need to get this right.
I added a couple of photos and a few pointers on the differences between cow parsley and hemlock in the cow parsley post, but I didn’t add a lot of detail as I’ve never seen any hemlock near our woodland camp to get close ups. However, at the weekend we ran a Wild Foods course at Nethergong Campsite and there was loads of hemlock, growing alongside the cow parsley. So, here are some photos.
In this first photo the cow parsley is on the left and hemlock on the right. The main differences are:
- They are subtly different shades of green – the hemlock is a little darker.
- Cow parsley has a matt finish whilst the hemlock has a slightly glossy sheen.
- Hemlock has finer leaves, more feathery in appearance.
In this next photo cow parsley is again on the left and hemlock on the right.
- Whilst cow parsley often has a pinkish hue to the stem, hemlock has very distinctive purple blotches on a green stem. Make sure that you check the stem at ground level, this seems to be where the blotchiness often occurs.
- Cow parsley is slightly hairy, hemlock has smooth stems.
- Cow parsley stems have a groove, a bit like celery, hemlock doesn’t have this.
In this last photo you can see a cross section of the stems, again cow parsley on the left and hemlock on the right. Note, the photo isn’t of the main stems, but from stems coming off the main stem. Here the important thing to notice is the shape of the stems. Cow parsley is triangular whilst hemlock is round and hollow.
So this is difficult to get across on a blog post, but smell can help here as well. Cow parsley, I think, has a pleasant smell (a bit of a cross between parsley and aniseed), whilst hemlock really doesn’t!
Unless you are absolutely certain you know what it is, don’t eat any foraged plants.
Hemlock or Cow Parsley? Think you know? Watch this video and take some time to see if you can tell the difference. In this video I reveal the answer, along with numerous photos to illustrate the plants.
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But first I want to make a few things very clear to you, and also about my own way of teaching the edible weeds that surround us…
Firstly, for me foraging is not about being afraid of the nature or the plant kingdom but it is about being respectful. That being said the old forager adage of “When In Doubt, Leave It Out” is not just some pretty statement… it is a fundamental rule, and will save you from coming to harm, and maybe even death!
Many people fear the wild, yet it is not the wild that is at fault, but ourselves!
Plant identification using the internet or books, can be a very rocky path. We live in an information culture, and as a result, and because we all have egos often information is spread around that is incorrect.
Unfortunately sometimes people just want to prove how clever they are, and in their rush to “be right”, often can trip up and take you down the rabbit whole of false information.
Using the internet for plant identification is only JUST THE START of the journey. When you think you have identified a plant yourself or someone has identified one for you in some online group or forum. Do not take it at first hand! Go and get a wild flower identification book, and head on out into nature, and go find the plant.
Botany can only take us so far. For pattern identification (which is your first port of call) and is what wild flower ID books are, it is invaluable, but then other identification factors come into play that are as equally important and quite simply cannot be learnt from books or the internet.
Because we have been foragers for tens of thousands of years, way before Linneaus came up with his classification system or botany or science or even foraging as a word was invented, we had other ways of knowing the world. Those ways are how indigenous cultures got to know plants.
But one of the key ways these cultures learnt plants was orally from the older members of the ‘band’ or ‘tribe’. In our culture that would have been by being an apprentice to someone who knew their subject deeply, and could guide the newcomer.
The ancient romans and greeks said there are three ways to learn a subject. The first way is by personal experience; but it is the most dangerous way, especially when learning plants!
The second way; and the best way, the middle way, was to have a guide or mentor to teach you. And the third way; and the poorest way, was via books and information…
Our modern culture gives high praise to the information way, and as is pretty self evident, we moved from an industrial culture, to an information culture only very recently.
So when it comes to learning plants, there is no better way than to learn directly from someone else.
Learning plants via books and the internet can only take you so far, then you have to get off your screens, and step out into the natural world… it’s not as scary as you think.
Because the video above covers hemlock and cow parsley both members of the Apeacea family formerly know as the Umbelliferae family or the Carrot/Celery family… I want to make something VERY clear…
…This is NOT a plant family for beginners, and it is best left alone until you have gained more experience. But that will come with time as you slowly progress along your own plant journey.
Also plants vary in how they appear not only in the different locations around the country, but also in the illustrated and photo wild flower books… this is why getting your head around a proper Wild Flower Key, rather than photo or illustration books is the better way. One flower key that is highly recommended is by Francis Rose, simply called The Wild Flower Key.
The problem with botanical ID is that it gives us only a piece of the puzzle when learning a plant. One of the quickest and most effective ways to differentiate between hemlock and cow parsley is by smell.
Smell is vital, and I personally believe that every single plant has a unique smell. This belief does not come from some hippy-trippy woowoo understanding of the world, but from my experience travelling overseas and meeting indigenous plantwalkers.
In our modern, techno-civilisation we often exist in our heads, cutting ourselves off from our senses. And as I say on all my foraging courses, in order to be an effective forager or plantwalker you need to “Get Out of Your Head & Come To Your Senses”.
The easiest way to do this is to Pick, Crush & Sniff a plant every day. Doing so wakes up our senses, and is known as Organoleptic Learning… using all our senses, not just our eyes. It is a very powerful way to learn plants.
But Organoleptic Learning or as I call it Sensory Attention has other far deeper outcomes, something I won’t go into in this video, there’s just not enough time.
The purpose of doing this video was to show people just how easy it is to NOT know a plant, simply by using the eyes, and that to fully meet a plant, we must spend time with that plant in its habitat and in context as to where it grows and the relationship that it has with the rest of creation.
I hope you start moving away from gaining plant knowledge via your head, and start spending more and more time outside meeting plants, sitting with plants, and observing them through their growth cycle and the various seasons.
It’s an empowering and enlivening journey walking the Green Path, as my beloved plant mentor Frank Cook called it… but you have to do it. You have to get off the touchline of life, get off your screens and out of the computer and enter the wild… I hope you enjoy the video.
Plant russian roulette?
13th January 2013
No snow yet, but it’s on its way. Still time to pick stuff from the roadsides before it’s thoroughly covered over. Today’s blog is a controversial one. Have a look at the two pictures below.
These plants were growing on the same verge literally 2 metres apart, the plant on the left is Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris sometime called Wild Chervil and the plant on the right is Hemlock Conium maculatum one of our most toxic plant species. Hopefully from the picture it should be apparent how similar looking they are and how you: firstly must be certain of your identification but also how you need to check every leaf you pick and not just assume that all the plants growing together are the same species.
Both these plants are again in the Apiaceae family (I mentioned in a previous blogt that there were alot of species in this family), and it is mainly becuase of the similarity of these two species that many people shy away from the whole family and sometimes foraging in general. I personally feel that it’s worth taking the time and effort to learn how to distinguish them early on in your foraging journey. Once the difference are learnt you can then adopt the same rules for foraging any edible plant or fungi……….if you are not 100% certain, leave it alone and check every specimen that goes in the basket.
Later in the year identifying Cow Parsley and Hemlock becomes quite straight forward. Hemlock is distinctive during the summer as it’s stem is smooth and green with distinct dark purple spots. It is these that give rise to the second part of it’s latin name, maculatum which means “speckled”. The stems of Cow Parsley are green or sometimes purple tinged, are hollow and have distinct ridges. Also Cow Parsley tends to be shorter and flower a few weeks earlier although niether of these features on their own should be used to identify it.
The problem is that the best time to utilise Cow Parsley is over winter and early spring (by summer it becomes tough and bitter tasting) but the stems haven’t developed so identiication is a little bit harder.
Miles Irving’s The Forager Handbook has some very useful tables for identifying several Apiaceae species and is highly recommended. Here we are focusing on simply distinguishing between Cow Parsley and Hemlock at this time of year.
The stems on Hemlock leaves are round and hollow they tend to be green and smooth and hairless. The leaves are more finely divided the Cow Parsley, are smoother, hairless and shinier. When crushed the plant has an unpleasant, fetid smell described as smelling of mouse urine (these days most people don’t know what mouse urine smells like).
The stems on Cow Parsley have a groove on the upper surface (like celery stems) are generally solid all the way through, often take on a purplish tinge and have fine downy hairs. The leaves are a slightly bluer-green colour, rougher and with a more mat appearance. The smell of Cow Parsley when crushed is sweet and parsley like with a slight aniseed scent to it.
Also be aware that there are several other members of this family which are superficially similar some of which are toxic, noteably Fools Parsley Aethusa cynapium which also smells unpleasant and Rough Chervil Chaerophyllum temulum which doesn’t smell unpleasant but doesn’t have the sweet smell of Cow Parsley and is much more coarsely haired, almost bristly. For me the smell of Cow Parsley is the key thing, learn what it smells like and crush a leaf on every frond picked and check the smell.
Cow Parsley can be used as a herb just like it’s cultivated cousin Chervil. It’s Parsley/Aniseed flavour goes particularly well with fish, use it like you would Parsley in a sauce. It also goes well with potatoes; chopped and mixed into mash or with new potates, olive oil and lemon juice. To make a “chefy” garnish with Cow Parsley click here.
By contrast Hemlock amongst other alkaloid contains Coniine which acts on the central nervous system causing paralysis which also affects the cardiac and respiratory system. It was administered as a poison to prisoners in ancient Greece and it was a drink of Hemlock that was used to kill Socrates. As few as 6-8 leaves are said to be enough to cause fatalities.
1 Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing Black Cow Parsley Sent in 9cm Pots
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Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ Black Cow Parsley (Sent in 9cm Pots) (1): Garden & Outdoors, Any moist but well drained soil in full sun to part shade, Great prices on your favourite Gardening brands, and free delivery on eligible orders, Attractive mounds of deep purple foliage with umbels of tiny white flowers that are produced in the spring and early summer, 1 Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing Black Cow Parsley Sent in 9cm Pots, You will receive one plant in 9cm pot, This is classed as a biannual but can often go into a third season, The umbels look magnificent against the dark foliage, Max height m, Any moist but well drained soil in full sun to part shade, Sent as young plant in a 9cm pot, Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing Black Cow Parsley 1 Sent in 9cm Pots
Latin name: Anthriscus sylvestris
The cow parsley is a biennial plant, meaning that it takes two years to complete its lifecycle. It thrives in shady places, such as grassy banks and hedgerows, and really dislikes wet, boggy ground. It is quite hardy, and can survive a lot of traffic fumes as well as farmers’ sprays!
Would you have guessed that the cow parsley is a member of the carrot family? It is also related to the giant hogweed, which is highly poisonous. Although children sometimes use the hollow stems of the cow parsley as blowpipes, you must be extremely careful not to mistake the poisonous giant hogweed for cow parsley.
The cow parsley flowers from April to June. Have you ever heard people talking about Queen Anne’s lace? This is common name for cow parsley, and really is an altogether more elegant one for such a graceful plant!
The tiny white flowers of the cow parsley grow in little bunches. These bunches are spread out over the top of the plant, appearing like delicate umbrellas that are supported by the long hollow stalks. The flowers give off a very distinctive, dewy, scent. Although it might not be the most pleasant smell to everyone, it does attract a huge number of insects!
The fruit of the cow parsley is long, smooth, and shiny black. It usually ripens in late June to July and falls off by September. Its fresh, fern-like, triangular leaves are also very distinctive.
Many people consider this plant a nuisance weed in gardens because it spreads very quickly. However, it is often used by florists in flower arrangements, as ithe tiny delicate flowers look well beside other brightly coloured flowers.