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The Latin name is derived from the Arab word 'ai' what means burning, since the plant causes burning pains.
Syn.: Coriandrum cynapium, Cicuta cynapium, Selinum cynapium, Aethusa cicuta, Aethusa toxicaria, Aethusa tenifolia
German: Gleiße, Gartenschierling, Kleiner Schierling, Glanzpeterlein, Faule Grete
Part used: Whole plant.
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Rosiflorae / Rosidae; Apiales; Umbelliferae / Apiaceae - Carrot / Celery Family
Allen's Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. I, 59, Hering Guid, Symp. Vol. I.
Description of the substance
This annual plant is not unlike both Parsley and Hemlock. Its leaves, which are very similar to those of Parsley, are more acute, of a darker green and when bruised emit a disagreeable odour. When in flower it is easily distinguished because it has no general involucre and the partial involucre is composed of three to five long pendulous bracts which are drawn to one side, also the flowers, instead of being yellow, are white. It differs from Hemlock in being smaller, having its stem unspotted and the ridges of its fruit not wavy, also in the odour of the leaves, which is less unpleasant than that of Hemlock.
Occurrence: Fool’s parsley is common throughout the UK as a native annual weed of cultivated land. Two forms occur, one is 30-80 cm tall and occurs in gardens and on roadsides; the other is 5-20 cm tall and occurs mainly on arable land. The short form is said to have developed as an adaptation to avoid decapitation by combine harvesters.
The weed is poisonous when fresh but is not harmful in the dried state. The poisons, coniine and cynapine, are denatured by the drying process.
Biology: The flowering period is from July to August. A garden plant may produce up to 6,000 seeds but in a cereal crop the number is far less. Freshly shed seeds are dormant but burial over winter increases the ability to germination. Germination is also increased by scarification or removal of the seed coat. The main period of seedling emergence is March to May but seedlings can emerge from January to October and older seeds may give a flush of emergence in late winter. Most seedlings emerge from the top 3 cm of soil but odd seedlings can emerge from 9 cm deep.
Persistence and Spread: Seeds can remain dormant in soil for at least 10 years.
Management: Fool’s parsley is difficult to manage because the seedlings emerge at irregular intervals. Even a bare fallow may fail to reduce the weed effectively if the seeds fail to germinate after cultivations. Nevertheless, seed numbers in soil have been reduced by 75% after fallowing for one year. Seed numbers are also reduced by cropping with winter wheat.
As an annual weed, fool’s parsley can be substantially controlled in row crops by mechanical weeding.