Carrot family

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This is a large group of plants with small flowers arranged in umbrella-shaped heads, hence the alternative family name: umbellifers. Most have white or yellow flowers that are very attractive to insects. Wild carrot, the head of the family as it were, grows in rough grassland especially near the sea.

Hogweed and cow parsley are the most familiar and widespread examples, growing on almost every unmanaged piece of countryside in Essex. Wild angelica is similar to hogweed in size and appearance, but restricted to damp meadows.

Less widespread are pignut, which can grow in very large numbers but only in long-established grassland, and upright hedge-parsley, which grows beside hedges.

Hog's fennel and sea holly are coastal plants, the latter looking very different from other members of the family.

© Owen Keen