Cow Parsley - Anthriscus sylvestris

Alternative names

Medium to tall, rather robust plant to 1.5 metres. Leaves dull green 3 pinnate. Flowers white 3 to 4 mm in umbels with 4 to 15 rays, without lower bracts.

Similar Species

Similar to many other medium-sized white flowered umbellifers with ferny divided leaves

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

The dominant umbellifer of roadside hedges. Stems hollow; fruits ridged towards the top (not spiny, bristly or warty) and elongated (c.3 times longer than wide).  Bracteoles and sometimes bracts present.


Rough grassy habitats, hedgerows, banks and roadside verges.

When to see it

April to June.

Life History

Biennial or perennial, rarely an annual.

UK Status

Common throughout Britain though scarcer in the north

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 605 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current Checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is listed as Native, abundant

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Keck, Kecks, Cow Parsley
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
27/05/2000 (MBNHS;Steve Woodward)
Last record:
01/01/2024 (Dale, Veronica)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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Photo of the association

Phytomyza chaerophylli

The larvae of the fly Phytomyza chaerophylli mine the leaves of umbelliferous plants such as Cow Parsley. The mines often follow the margin of the leaf at first, but then expands into a blotch that covers a large area of the leaf. The mine is pale and frass is usually seen in two untidy rows of isolated grains.