Family: Carrot [Umbelliferae / Apiaceae]


Aegopodium

Aethusa

Ammi

Anethum

Angelica

Apium

Astrantia

Berula

Bifora

Bunium

Bupleurum

Carum

Caucalis

Chaerophyllum

Ciclospermum

Cicuta

Conium

Conopodium

Coriandrum

Crithmum

Cuminum

Daucus

Eryngium

Falcaria

Ferula

Foeniculum

Heracleum

Imperatoria

Laser

Laserpitium

Levisticum

Ligusticum

Meum

Myrrhis

Oenanthe

Orlaya

Pastinaca

Petroselinum

Peucedanum

Physospermum

Pimpinella

Ridolfia

Sanicula

Scandix

Selinum

Seseli

Silaum

Silphium

Sison

Sium

Smyrnium

Thyselium

Tordylium

Torilis

Trachyspermum

Trinia

Turgenia

The Carrot Family is a very diverse group, but nearly all of them have the characteristic umbel, sometimes flat-topped otherwise curved, of tiny flowers. Those that do not have the characteristic umbel are atypical umbellifers; there may be a dozen of those.

Many synthesize unusual and diverse compounds. Typical of these are spices used in curries produced by such umbellifers as Caraway, Coriander, Cumin; or herbs used in cooking such as Fennel, Chervil, Scots Lovage, and (garden) Parsley; or others used in dishes such as celery, (edible) carrot, parsnip, (garden) Angelica, Field Eryngo and Pignut.

Yet many other umbellifers are deadly poisonous. The poisonous umbellifers include Giant Hogweed which contains such dangerously photo-toxic compounds as furocoumarins (synonymous with furanocoumarins).

There are two families of furanocoumarins, linear furanocoumarins based on psoralen, and angular furanocoumarins based on angelicin.

The pre-cursor to the furanocoumarins is coumarine itself, which smells of new-mown hay, is found in Lady's Bedstraw and is mostly harmless. It is shown for comparison only.

Umbelliferone is another example of a coumarine. Umbelliferone, as its name suggests, occurs in a number of Umbellifers such as Carrot, Wild Angelica and Coriander as well as flowers from some other families such as that of Mouse-ear Hawkweed. Like Scopoletin, Umbelliferone is also used in sunscreening suncreams, but is probably photomutagenic, being activated by the same UV light that it absorbs! It is used as an optical brightener in white textiles, which works by way of UV fluorescence in the blue region of the spectrum.

Hemlock [not yet linked to] contains the deadly poisonous alkaloid coniine which must be one of the the simplest alkaloids known. Socrates knowingly poisoned himself when he drank an infusion of Hemlock from a cup. The neurotoxin Coniine contributes to the feotid smell of Hemlock.


Hemlock Water Dropwort contains the toxic compound oenanthotoxin.
Cowbane the chemically very similar cicutoxin.

These are both polyacetylenes with highly-energetic triple bonded carbon atoms, unusual in the natural world. Polyynes are poisonous, binding to several proteins.

Ivy is another plant that contains other compounds with triple-bonded carbon atoms (Falcarinols), but Ivy is not an umbellifer.

!! This is not an exhaustive list of all poisonous umbellifers !!

Most umbellifers have several umbels of flowers, often compound umbels. Many often have a ring of bracts just underneath the umbel, and sometimes bracteoles underneath the sub-umbel (but both bracts and bracteoles are variable and can be either present or absent in some species).

Usually the most striking property of the umbels is that the inner one(s) seem to be different to the outer ones in many species of umbellifer. This is because the inner umbels of these umbellifers have all bisexual (hermaphroditic) flowers, whereas the flowers on the outer umbels are all male. Thus only flowers on the inner umbels of these umbellifers will turn into fruit. There is only one umbellifer that is dioecious, with separate male and female plants, being Honewort (Trinia glauca), but even on this umbellifer the separation of the male and female flowers on separate plants is often incomplete.

Some umbellifers are atypical of the genera, apparently lacking obvious umbels. Typical of these is Sea Holly, Field Eryngo, Masterwort, Pink Masterwort, Slender Hare's-ear, the much rarer Small Hare's-ear, False Thorow-wax, the extinct (in the wild) Thorow-wax, Marsh Pennywort and Floating Pennywort and to a less obvious extent Sanicle.



[HERACLEUM] Hogweeds

Hogweed. (Heracleum sphondylium) Photo: © RWD

Giant Hogweed.(Heracleum mantegazzianum) Photo: © RWD



[MYRRHIS] Sweet Cicely

Sweet Cicely. (Myrrhis odorata) Photo: © RWD



[FOENICULUM] Fennel

Fennel. (Foeniculum vulgare) Photo: © RWD



[DAUCUS] Carrots

Wild Carrot. (Daucus carota) Photo: © RWD

Sea Carrot (Daucus carota ssp. gummifer) Photo: © RWD



[AEGOPODIUM] Ground-elder

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) Photo: © RWD



[ASTRANTIA] Astrantia

Astrantia. (Astrantia major) Photo: © RWD



[ERYNGIUM] Sea-hollies

Sea Holly. (Eryngium maritimum) Photo: © RWD

Mediterranean Sea-Holly (Eryngium bourgatii) Photo: © RWD

Field Eryngo (Eryngium campestre) Photo: © Dawn Nelson



[CRITHMUM] Rock Samphire

Rock Samphire. (Crithmum maritimum) Photo: © RWD



[SANICULA] Sanicle

Sanicle (Sanicula europaea) Photo: © RWD



[PASTINACA] Parsnips

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) Photo: © RWD

 

[Aethusa]
WATERCRESS HYBRID CHART
[Aethusa]
WATERCRESS
HYBRIDS
BSBI MAPS
Lesser
Marshwort

(inundatum)
Fool's
Water-cress

(nodiflorum)
Creeping
Marshwort

(repens)
Creeping
Marshwort

(repens)
  nodiflorum
×
repens
Fool's
Water-cress

(nodiflorum)
Aethusa
×
moorei
nodiflorum
×
repens
Lesser
Marshwort

(inundatum)
Aethusa
×
moorei
 

Aethusa SPECIES LACKING HYBRIDS
(Aethusa cynapium subsp. agrestis) Fool's Parsley
(Aethusa cynapium subsp. cynapium) Fool's Parsley
(Aethusa cynapium subsp. elata)
(Aethusa graveolens) Wild Celery
(Aethusa graveolens var. dulce) Celery

Anthriscus



[ANTHRISCUS] Chervils

Bur Chervil (Anthriscus caucalis) Photo: © RWD



[PETROSELINUM] Parsleys

Garden Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) Photo: © RWD



[SMYRNIUM] Alexanders

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) Photo: © RWD



[ANGELICA] Angelicas

Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) Photo: © RWD

Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica) Photo: © RWD



[CONOPODIUM] Pignut

Pignut (Conopodium majus) Photo: © RWD



[OENANTHE] Water-Dropworts

Hemlock Water-Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) Photo: © RWD

Parsley Water-Dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii) Photo: © RWD



[BERULA] Lesser Water-Parsnip

Lesser Water-Parsnip (Berula erecta) Photo: © RWD



[APIUM] Marshworts

Fool's Watercress (Apium nodiflorum) Photo: © RWD



[TORILIS] Hedge-Parsleys

Upright Hedge-Parsley (Torilis japonica) Photo: © RWD



[PIMPINELLA] Burnet-Saxifrages

Burnet-Saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga) Photo: © RWD

Greater Burnet-Saxifrage (Pimpinella major) Photo: © RWD



[CONIUM] Hemlock

In the UK Hemlock is the only plant in this genus, and possibly in the whole world.

Hemlock (Conium maculatum) Photo: © RWD

Family: Carrot [Umbelliferae / Apiaceae]

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