I’m finally starting to get a handle on the various umbellifers to be found in this land and the progression of their flowering through the seasons. Here in Wales, one of those currently in full flower is the Wild carrot (Daucus carota).
Its leaves smell of the edible carrot but I’ve read that the roots of this wild variety are ‘thin and wiry and bear little resemblance to the thick, orange tap-roots of the cultivated vegetable’ so that firmly rules out any foraging! I also read, in my copy of Richard Mabey’s trusty Flora Britannica, that edible carrots ‘were developed from a distinct subspecies, ssp.sativa, probably native to the Mediterranean, and brought to Britain in the 15th century’. Fascinating!
Meanwhile, the Wild carrots continue to grow straight and about 3 feet tall in my local wild places, to the delight of the hoverflies, sawflies, soldier beetles and other assorted insects that seem particularly to enjoy them. They have quite distinctive feathery leaves and often, but not always, a very tiny pinkish-red flower in the exact centre of their umbel. Also, when they’ve finished flowering, the umbels contract to a nest-like shape, which is why one of their common names is Bird’s-nest.