Chaerophyllum procumbens (L.) Crantz

Chaerophyllum procumbens plant

Family - Apiaceae

Stems - From a taproot, multiple from the base, ascending to erect, branching, herbaceous, angled, typically with retrorse pubescence on angles, slightly fragrant with a scent like parsley, to +/-30cm tall.

Leaves - Alternate, typically sessile or with a short flattened sheathing petiole, pinnately divided, to +/-6cm long, +/-5cm broad. Rachis and petiolules with and adaxial groove and very sparse pubescent. Leaflets deeply lobed to pinnatifid. Ultimate divisions oblong-elliptic, entire, rounded to subacute at apex. Margins sparse strigillose. Leaves green above and light green below.

Chaerophyllum procumbens leaves

Inflorescence - Axillary compound umbels. Peduncle to 6cm long, sparsely to moderately hispidulous. Rays typically 3 per inflorescence. Umbellets subtended by 4-5 ovate to rotund bractlets. Bractlets with ciliate margins, to -2mm long, spreading to erect in fruit. Pedicels, (raylets), 2-3mm long in flower, 5-6mm long in fruit, glabrous, with the same diameter throughout.

Flowers - Petals 5, white, glabrous, -1mm long, .6mm broad, elliptic, acute, spreading, with single visible midvein. Stamens 5, spreading, alternating with the petals. Filaments glabrous, white, .6mm long. Anthers brownish-yellow, .1mm long. Styles very short, expanded at base into thick stylopodia. Ovary glabrous, green, inferior, 1 - 1.1mm long in flower, 2-carpellate. Sepals minute to absent. Fruits to 7mm long, green, glabrous, elliptic-oblong, with one seed per carpel.

Chaerophyllum procumbens flowersFlowers.

Chaerophyllum procumbens fruitsFruits.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Rich open woods, alluvial soils, thickets, glades, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little species is easy to overlook because of its small, indistinct flowers and relatively "common" appearance. The plant is common throughout Missouri and is attractive if grown in large quantity. Some species of butterfly larvae will eat the foliage of this species.
This species can be distinguished from the similar C. tainturieri Hook. by its pedicels, which are the same width throughout their lengths. The pedicels of C. taintureri expand toward the apex.

Photographs taken at the Dr. Frederick Marshall Conservation Area, Platte County, MO., 5-6-01.


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