The buttercups are gilding the water meadows but in amongst the trees, cow parsley is Queen – well Queen Anne’s Lace –
Cow Parsley is a hollow-stemmed, tall plant that grows rapidly in the summer before dying back. It likes shady habitats in particular, and can be found decorating woodland edges, roadside verges and hedgerows with masses of frothy, white flowers. These flower umbels (umbrella-like clusters) appear from May until June.
How to identify
The large, flat umbrellas of small white flowers, and large, fern-like leaves are familiar characteristics of Cow Parsley. When crushed between the fingers, the leaves produce a strong, almost aniseed-like scent. One of several common members of the carrot family, this is the most abundant, and the earliest-flowering of the roadside umbellifers, collectively referred to as ‘Queen Anne’s Lace”
For us gardeners, there are garden worthy members of the family, notably with near black/deep purple foliage and cut leaves – called Ravenswing.