There are over 1500 members of the carrot/parsley – or more correctly – apiaceae – family worldwide, and around 100 varieties in the UK. Including well known delights such as fennel, coriander, dill, parsley, and celery, and also some notoriously toxic species like hemlock and hemlock water-dropwort, this family presents some major gastronomic – and catastrophic – opportunities for foragers
If foraging conjures up images of bimbling along tranquil hedgerows, gently picking berries with a gentle sun on your back, then picking rock samphire may disabuse you of the notion. Though it does occasionally grow on the foreshore, its preferred home, clinging to precipitous coastal cliffs, makes for anything but bucolic harvesting.
Sweet cicely offers many sensual pleasures to the forager. There is an ampleness and generosity in her growth that is pleasing to the eye – seldom taller than a metre or so, but always appearing substantial without being solid. Despite being a member of the often scary carrot family, this gorgeous plant is one I recommend to novice foragers.
Common hogweed is a startlingly delicious vegetable and an amazingly versatile wild spice – my favourite of all edible wild plants in fact. But getting to know and safely eat it is not as straightforward as many other plants on this website
This is one of the safest of the carrot family to identify, and certainly the most common. Its serrated leaves are oval with a point and mostly grow in 3 groups of 3 from a grooved stalk, close to the ground. Umbels of small white flowers appear in late May or June…