A large family of herbs, usually with hollow stems, tiny, perfect or polygamous flowers in umbels or flat-topped clusters and with deeply-cut, compound leaves.
Water Parsnip (Sium Cicutaefolium) is a stout branching herb growing in shallow water. The rather weak stem is from 2 to 6 feet high. The alternating, compound leaves are very variable, but usually of from seven to fifteen, sharply-toothed, linear or lance-shaped leaflets. Plat, dome-shaped clusters, or umbels, of tiny white flowers terminate the upper branches. This species is very abundant throughout the country.
A. Water Parsnip.
B. Wild Carrot; Queen Anne's Lace.
Early Meadow Parsnip (Zizia Aurea) is a common roadside weed, or found along the borders of woods, swamps or meadows. Its rather weak appearing stems surprise us with their power of resisting when we try to break them. The leaves are divided into three parts, containing five or seven, lanceolate, toothed leaflets, each. The tiny golden-yellow flowers are arranged in terminal heads consisting of numerous wide-spread, little umbels.
While to flower lovers, this may appear to be the most beautiful species of the family, it is the most heartily detested weed with which the farmer has to contend. It is very prolific, and each individual plant strikes its roots deep into the ground, as though determined to defy extermination. It is a very near relative to, and by some supposed to be, the species from which our cultivated carrots descended. The fully opened flower clusters have an exquisite, lace-like appearance, while those half-opened are hollowed suggestively like a bird's nest; in the center of the cluster, is a tiny purple floret, all the others being white.