Information on Cow Parsley

Common Name: Cow Parsley
Scientific Name: Anthriscus sylvestris
Irish Name: Peirsil bhó
Family Group: Apiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Cow Parsley could sometimes be confused with:

Angelica, Wild, Carrot, Wild, Hemlock, Hogweed, Water-dropwort, Hemlock,

On roadsides, woodland margins, in hedgerows and shady places, from April to June this tall, downy perennial stands gracefully, reaching up to 1 metre at times.  It has a stout, hollow, grooved and unspotted stem on which it bears long-stalked terminal umbels of white 5-petalled flowers. These inflorsecences have 8–12 stalks and are without bracts.  The bright green leaves are quite large, triangular and 2-3 times pinnate.  The seeds are black and elongated.  Also known as Devil's Parsley, possibly because of its resemblance to the highly poisonous Hemlock, this plant occurs in accounts of withcraft practices.  It is a native plant belonging to the Apiaceae family.  

I first identified this plant in Dundrum, Co Dublin in the 1950's and photographed it near Ferns, Co Wexford in 2009 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Parsley, Cow
Parsley, Cow

 Silent Noon

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass, -
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky: -
So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti           (1828-1882)