Chaerophyllum hirsutum Chaerophyllum hirsutum Chaerophyllum hirsutum Chaerophyllum aureum Chaerophyllum aureum Chaerophyllum aureum

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Bulbous Chervil

Chaerophyllum bulbosum

  • Name also: Turnip-Rooted Chervil, Tuberous-Rooted Chervil, Parsnip Chervil
  • Family: Carrot Family – Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
  • Growing form: Biennial herb. Tuber roundish globose, app. 2 cm (0.8 in.) wide.
  • Height: 100–200 cm (40–80 in.). Stem branched in the upper part, reddish-brown mottled, lower part sparsely stiff-haired, upper part glabrous, solid, joints bulbous.
  • Flower: Corolla regular, white, less than 6 mm (0.2 in.) wide (outer corollass often slightly zygomorphic and bigger than central ones); petals 5, notched, with an incurved point. Sepals missing. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, styles 2. Inflorescence a compound umbel. Primary umbel with no bracts, secondary umbels with 3–5(–7) bracteoles of different sizes, narrowly ovate, long-tapered.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, base pod-like. Blade triangular, 3–4 times pinnate, leaflets narrowly lobed, lobes 0.5–1 mm (0.02–0.04 in.) wide.
  • Fruit: Broadly oblong, 4–6 mm (0.15–0.25 in.) long two-parted schizocarp, slightly and bluntly ridged, glabrous, brown, styles bent outward.
  • Habitat: Parks, gardens, waysides. Cultivation escape.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

The scientific name of the family of chervil is a combination of the Greek words charein, ‘be glad’, and fyllos, ‘leave’. It is to be supposed that the beautiful colour of the leaves and the pleasant fragrance were the reasons for being glad – some of the poisonous species of the family have intoxicating characteristics, however. At the first glance, the bulbous chervil with its small leaflets can easily be confused with the wild chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris), but the leaves of the bulbous chervil are even more delicately lacelike, the base of the stem has long hairs and the joints are distinctly bulbous. With a little digging in the earth, the roundish globose tuber can be found as final proof.

Before explorers brought potato to Europe in the 16th century, Finnish farmers among others grew the bulbous chervil as a root vegetable because of its tuber which contains a lot of starch. The young shoots also make a good salad. Today the practical use of the species has almost been forgotten, and the bulbous chervil with is mild taste of sweet chestnuts has become a rare delicacy. Its cultivation probably started relatively late, since there is no mentioning of its use from ancient times. Often people have changed the plants they have cultivated with the help of grafting so much that they differ greatly from their wild original forms, and their survival depends often solely on human care. Many cultivated plants cannot survive among natural flora, because we have developed them to have a higher yield or to be otherwise more suitable from our point of view: for instance, many protective characteristics of the plants – such as thorns and poisons – have disappeared in the process. The bulbous chervil does not show any signs of domestication, and it does not seem to have had any problems surviving among the wild flora through the centuries. Its occurrences in the Finnish nature may well be connected to ancient villages. On the other hand, the species might have been cultivated later in the gardens of the gentry or their subordinates. The species have spread through the whole of Finland, up to the North, but it has only been able to establish itself in the South: there are some established occurrences of bulbous chervils in the Helsinki region, Inkoo, Turku and Vammala.

Hairy Chervil and Golden Chervil

Chaerophyllum hirsutum and Chaerophyllum aureum

NOT TRANSLATED YET. Other chervil species possible in Finland are Chervil prescottii (regarded also as a subspecies of bulbous chervil, C. b. ssp. prescottii), hairy chervil, golden chervil and rough chervil (C. temulum). All these species are more or less hairy. Ne kaikki voivat olla enemmän tai vähemmän karvaisia, varmimmin tietysti karvakirveli, jolla on mainituista lajeista leveimmät lehdykät, idänkirvelillä kapeimmat.
Besides these species possible in Finland as garden escape are sweet chervil (sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata) and garden chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), but these species are not included in chervil family.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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