Once upon a time there was a German botanist who lived along the Rhine. His name was Professor Ziz, and a good while later a certain member of the parsley family, far off in America, was named Zizia in his honor. Botanists whose names in most other ways have been forgotten thus have been perpetuated by means of their plant namesakes. Frequently they are plants which the defunct botanists never saw and with which they had not the remotest connection.
Zizia aurea (L.) Koch.
May - June Roadsides, thin woods.
It is possible, though, that in the sunny meadows along the Rhine there were yellow flowers which bloomed in late May and marked an end to early spring flowers and introduced summer to the land. For the early meadow parsnip, or golden-alexanders, is among the earliest of the parsnips to bloom. As if in deference to the youngness and grace of the season, golden-alexanders is not large and coarse as so many of its family are. It is a pleasant bright green plant of medium growth - two feet or a little more - with spreading branches and smooth stems and leaves. The leaves are irregularly shaped; some of the leaflets are lobed, some are entire; all are very finely saw-toothed and bright green.
In May - there in the sunny woods or in the moist meadows - the early meadow parsnip holds erect its graceful umbels of bright golden, tiny flowers. The separate heads of the flowers in the umbel spread on thin stems; the whole umbel is a bouquet.