It’s summer… and yes, we have some lovely summer weather at last! Out taking advantage of the sunshine we went on a country walk. The cow parsley was looking particularly pretty, and I could really see why it’s other name is Queen Anne’s lace. Today there were delicate clouds of it all along the paths we strolled along. As children we hated it for some reason and thought it was smelly… maybe that was the variety which grew near us, the lovely plants we saw today had no real odour at all. We also steered clear of it because we believed that if you picked it you would wet your bed that night!
When I looked it up to find out more, I found out that it likes partial shade, such as the edge of wooded areas; the cow parsley or Queen Anne’s lace today was in full bright sunshine, and seemed to be flourishing. Apparently if you rub its leaves between your fingers there is a very strong smell of aniseed… well, I never knew, because I have never picked it, aware of the dire consequences which may follow! Maybe I should try next time I see it. When crushed between the fingers, the leaves produce a strong, almost aniseed-like scent.
It is a member of the carrot family and it is an umbellifer, and it has cousins such as angelica, common fennel and sweet cicely… I can imagine the Commons family living an alternative life-style calling their daughters Angelica, Cicely and Queen Anne, and their son Fennel. Its Latin name is anthriscus sylvestris, and it is also called wild chervil, wild beaked parsley and keck… cousins of the Commons family, nefarious cousins, those wild boys Chervil, Parsley (also called Beaky because of his large nose) and Keck. if these families appear in any of my novels you’ll know where my inspiration came from!
Cow parsley can be rubbed on the skin as an insect repellent, apparently… but whatever you do, make sure it is cow parsley and not its very, very dangerous and poisonous cousin giant hogweed. Other medicinal uses, if you believe in these sort of ‘natural’ remedies, are reputed to be the treatment of congestive lung disorders, but I think I would prefer to go down conventional routes and see the doctor if I had emphysema, asthma, breathing difficulties or bronchial disorders, I definitely would not be looking out for cow parsley! And even more definitely if I had lymphatic congestion of the heart and lungs! … and even hiccups!