The wild chervil or meadow chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris (L.) Hoffm., 1814) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Apiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Plantæ Kingdom, Subregion Tracheobionta, Spermatophyta Super Division, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Rosidae Subclass, Apiales Order, Apiaceae Family, Apioeae Subfamily, Apioideae Tribe, Scandiceae Tribe, Scandicinae Subcrib and therefore to the Genus Anthra A. sylvestris.
The term is basic:
– Chaerophyllum sylvestre L .;
the terms are synonyms:
– Cerefolium sylvaticum Besser;
– Chaerophyllum sylvaticum L.
Furthermore, the following subspecies are recognized:
– Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. sylvestris (L.) Hoffm., 1814;
– Anthriscus sylvestris subsp. mollis (Boiss. & Reut.) Maire, 1940.
The term Anthriscus comes from anthryscum, a wild plant mentioned by Pliny (from the Greek ἄνθρυσκον ánthryskon antrisco, chervil).
The specific epithet sylvestris comes from sylva selva, forest (Latin form less correct for silva): plants that grow in the woods, in wild places.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Wild chervil is a species with a wide Eurasian-temperate distribution.
In Italy it is present in all regions of the continental area except in Puglia and perhaps in Umbria, it is also more frequent in the mountains.
Its habitat is that of mowing meadows and along the forest edges on fairly deep and fresh clay soils with a distribution between 0 and 2000 m. s.l.m ..
Wild chervil is a herbaceous plant with dimensions between 50 and 150 cm.
It has a taproot root with transverse rings.
The stem is erect cylindrical, branchy, hollow, streaked at the base, with reflected hair.
The leaves are 2-3 triangular-shaped pinnasette (1-2 x 2-3 dm) with deeply toothed elements, the basal asymmetric; cauline leaves reduced.
The flowers are small dialysis (3-4 mm), five-element actinomorphs, white petals, bi carpellar inferior ovary, gathered in inflorescences.
The inflorescence is umbrella-shaped with 8-15 spokes (4-7 cm), 5-part casing partially diluted.
The antesis is between May and June.
The fruits are schizocarp which divide into two dark green-brown fusiform achenes, with very fine protuberances; stilopodio present.
The wild chervil is a synanthropic species, nitrophilic common in man-made fertile meadows, in ruderal areas, edge of the woods, uncultivated, thickets and hedges. It also acts as a bienne hemicryptophyte.
However, it can be grown starting from seeds, obviously choosing fairly deep and fresh clay soils.
Uses and Traditions –
Wild chervil, also known by the names of Mirride salvatica and Antrisco silvestre, can be confused with other species including:
– Chaerophyllum temulum L. – Anacio which stands out for its stem with purple-colored macules and fruit of 5-7 mm at the base, without bumps and ribs;
– Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffmn. – Chervil adventitious or cultivated plant, of smaller size, with umbrellas from 1 to 5 densely pubescent rays, null envelope and umbrellas with bracts from 1-4, lanceolate. Flowers with 1 mm white petals;
– Conium maculatum L. – Cicuta major glaucous ramosa plant, with an unpleasant odor with whitish root, sturdy, hollow, very branchy stems, covered with purple spots, numerous umbrellas from 10 to 20 rays and casing of 2-4 bracts, bordered in white . White flowers with 5 equal petals. Poisonous plant.
Wild chervil is a honey plant and of poor nutritional value for forage. It also has tonic properties but is easily confused with hemlocks, therefore it is recommended, especially for the less experienced, not to collect it.
It is also an industrial source of deoxy podophyllotoxin, a fairly poisonous compound.
Method of Preparation –
The plant, besides having tonic properties, the leaves and roots can be used in the kitchen; however, given the considerations mentioned above and the fact that according to some authors the whole plant is to be considered poisonous or at least suspect, it is advisable not to collect it.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.