This elegant white annual umbellifer has 30-80cm long hollow, striate stems and slightly dull-blue or grey-green 2-3 pinnate, parsley-like leaves. The flowers produced during July & August have distinctive outward pointing bracteoles which look rather like spines. There is a smaller sub-species called ssp. agrestis which is only 5-20cms tall and occurs on arable land in Southern Britain (Stace 1997). The height difference is thought to be an adaptation to avoid decapitation by combine harvesters in cereal crops. It is poisonous when fresh but not when dried in hay (the poisons Coniine & Cynapine are denatured by the drying process) and animals don’t eat the plant fresh even if they are short of grass. It is said to have homeopathic uses. Also known as ass-parsley, dog-poison, dog’s parsley, false parsley, fool’s cicely, lesser hemlock.
It is found growing in hedge banks, waste places, arable fields and other cultivated land.
Sow in autumn. The germination of the seed is improved by scarifying & stratifying. It enjoys nutrient rich loams.