Lesser Water-parsnip - Berula erecta


Hairless, medium to tall, stoloniferous, semi-aquatic plant to 1 metre, but often rather sprawling. Stem hollow and lined. Submerged leaves 3 to 4 pinnate with linear lobes, aerial leaves pinnate with 7 to 14 pairs of lanceolate toothed leaflets, the uppermost leaves small. Flowers white, 2 mm, in leaf opposed umbels 3 to 6 cm across, each usually with 10 to 20 rays. Bracts and bracteoles both present, bracts leaf like, often pinnate.

Similar Species

Very similar to Fool's Watercress when it isn't in flower, and often confused with it.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

A white ring-mark on the petiole below the lowest pair of leaflets, which can be felt as a harder raised ring around the petiole.  Flowers have bracts and bracteoles, and are shortly stalked, in leaf-axils and terminal. 

Recording advice

The County Recorder has asked for a specimen of this plant to be retained for verification


Growing in shallow, fresh water.

When to see it

July to September.

Life History


UK Status

Fairly frequent but local in lowland England, scarce elsewhere.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 110 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current Checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is listed as native, locally frequent

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map