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Silaum silaus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Grassland, meadows, roadsides, wetland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Pepper-saxifrage (Silaum silaus) produces small, dainty flowers that are typically white or pale pink in colour. These flowers are arranged in flat-topped clusters known as umbels. The individual flowers themselves have five petals and are quite delicate in appearance. They are attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies, serving as a food source for these insects during the plant's blooming season, which usually occurs from June to August.
The fruit of pepper-saxifrage is a small, ribbed, and flattened structure. It forms after the plant has flowered and is composed of two seeds contained within each fruit. These fruits are typically brown or tan in colour and can be found clustered together on the plant's flowering stems.
The leaves of pepper-saxifrage are finely divided and have a fern-like appearance. They are deep green in colour and arranged alternately along the plant's stem. The leaflets are narrow and pinnately compound, giving the plant a delicate and feathery foliage. When crushed, the leaves emit a peppery or spicy aroma, from which the plant gets its name "pepper-saxifrage."
The aroma of pepper-saxifrage (Silaum silaus) is characterized as peppery or slightly spicy when the leaves are crushed or bruised. This aromatic quality is responsible for the plant's common name, "pepper-saxifrage." It adds a unique and pleasant fragrance to the plant, enhancing its appeal in culinary and herbal uses.
Other Names:
Hedge Garlic, Wild Garlic.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Silaum silaus, also known as hedge garlic or wild garlic, is a perennial herb native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which also includes other plants such as carrots, celery and parsley. The plant has white flowers and flat, glossy leaves that resemble those of garlic. The leaves, flowers and bulbs are all edible and have a strong garlic-like flavor, which can be used in cooking to add flavor to dishes. In some places, it is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Pepper-saxifrage, or Silaum silaus, is a small herbaceous plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is a native of Europe and can be found growing in grassy areas, meadows, and along roadsides. This plant has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, and its leaves and seeds were once widely used as a spice.

Pepper-saxifrage grows up to a height of 60 cm and has slender stems with finely divided leaves that are grayish-green in color. The plant blooms in mid-summer, producing small, white flowers that are arranged in umbels. The flowers are followed by small, oval-shaped seeds that are grayish-brown in color.

Pepper-saxifrage has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Its leaves and seeds were believed to have a range of therapeutic properties, including antiseptic, antispasmodic, and diuretic effects. The plant was also used to treat digestive disorders, such as bloating and gas, and to stimulate appetite.

In addition to its medicinal uses, pepper-saxifrage was also once widely used as a spice. The plant's seeds have a pungent, peppery flavor and were used to add a spicy kick to soups, stews, and other dishes. In some cultures, the seeds were also used as a coffee substitute.

Today, pepper-saxifrage is primarily grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks. It is a popular choice for rock gardens and other naturalistic settings, where its delicate foliage and attractive flowers can be appreciated. The plant is also sometimes used in herbal medicine, although its use is not as widespread as it once was.

While pepper-saxifrage is generally considered safe for use in medicinal or culinary applications, it is important to be cautious when handling the plant. Like many members of the Apiaceae family, pepper-saxifrage contains compounds that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people. If you are considering using this plant for any purpose, be sure to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner or herbalist to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your needs.

Pepper-saxifrage is a plant that has also been used for its cosmetic properties. It has been used in the preparation of skin creams and lotions due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed to help soothe and heal skin irritations, making it a popular choice for people with sensitive skin.

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, pepper-saxifrage is also an important plant for pollinators. Its flowers are a source of nectar and pollen for a variety of insects, including bees and butterflies. By planting pepper-saxifrage in your garden or yard, you can help support the health and well-being of these important pollinators.

Like many wild plants, pepper-saxifrage is threatened by habitat loss and other environmental pressures. To help protect this important plant, it is important to support conservation efforts and avoid picking or harvesting it from the wild. Instead, consider growing pepper-saxifrage in your own garden or purchasing seeds or plants from a reputable nursery.

Pepper-saxifrage has also been used in folklore and mythology. In some cultures, it was believed that the plant had magical powers and could protect against evil spirits. It was also thought to bring good luck and prosperity to those who carried it.

In traditional European medicine, pepper-saxifrage was used as a remedy for snake bites. It was believed that the plant's spicy taste could help counteract the effects of the venom.

Pepper-saxifrage is also an important plant in traditional Italian cuisine. In the region of Abruzzo, it is used as a key ingredient in a traditional dish called "scrippelle mbusse". This dish consists of thin crepes filled with a mixture of cheese, eggs, and pepper-saxifrage leaves, and then baked in the oven with a tomato sauce.

Pepper-saxifrage is a resilient plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and environments. It is often used in land reclamation and erosion control projects due to its ability to stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential health benefits of pepper-saxifrage. Studies have suggested that the plant may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may be useful in treating a variety of health conditions, including diabetes and cancer.

Overall, pepper-saxifrage is a fascinating plant with a rich history and many potential uses. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, culinary uses, ecological value, or cultural significance, there is much to explore and appreciate about this versatile herb.

30 Facts About Pepper-saxifrage

  1. Scientific Name: Silaum silaus.
  2. Common Names: Pepper-saxifrage, Pepper-saxifrage Silaum, Pepper-saxifrage of Silaus.
  3. Appearance: It is a tall, slender plant with finely divided, fern-like leaves.
  4. Height: Pepper-saxifrage can reach heights of up to 1.5 metres (4.9 feet).
  5. Flowers: The plant produces small, white or pale pink flowers that are arranged in flat-topped clusters.
  6. Fragrance: It emits a peppery or spicy aroma when the leaves are crushed, hence the name "pepper-saxifrage."
  7. Biennial or Perennial: Pepper-saxifrage can be either biennial or perennial, depending on environmental conditions.
  8. Habitat: It is commonly found in meadows, grasslands, and along riverbanks and woodland edges.
  9. Distribution: Native to Europe and parts of Asia, including the United Kingdom and parts of Scandinavia.
  10. Blooming Season: Typically blooms from June to August.
  11. Attracts Pollinators: The flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  12. Edible: Pepper-saxifrage is edible, and historically, its leaves and roots were used in salads, soups, and as a flavouring agent.
  13. Aromatic Qualities: It is known for its aromatic and slightly peppery taste.
  14. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally used for its diuretic and digestive properties.
  15. Cultural Significance: In some cultures, it was considered a symbol of protection against evil spirits.
  16. Declining Populations: In some regions, pepper-saxifrage populations have declined due to habitat loss and overgrazing by livestock.
  17. Conservation Efforts: Conservationists work to protect and restore habitats to preserve this species.
  18. Alternative Names: Also known as wild chervil or wild chervil pepperwort.
  19. Biennial Growth Cycle: In biennial form, it produces foliage in the first year and then flowers in the second year before dying.
  20. Perennial Growth Cycle: In perennial form, it can continue to produce foliage and flowers year after year.
  21. Leaves: The leaves are deeply divided and resemble parsley or fern fronds.
  22. Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.
  23. Stem: The stem is hollow and can be slightly ridged.
  24. Fruits: After flowering, pepper-saxifrage produces small, ribbed fruits containing seeds.
  25. Wildlife Value: The plant can provide habitat and food for various insects and small mammals.
  26. Invasive Potential: In some regions, it is considered an invasive species due to its rapid growth and ability to outcompete native plants.
  27. Similar Species: It can be confused with other members of the Apiaceae family, such as cow parsley and hogweed.
  28. Growth Conditions: Prefers well-drained soils in full to partial sun.
  29. Conservation Status: The conservation status of pepper-saxifrage varies by region, with some populations considered vulnerable or endangered.
  30. Ecological Importance: It plays a role in the ecosystem by providing nectar for pollinators and habitat for various wildlife species.

Please note that while pepper-saxifrage has historical uses as an edible and medicinal plant, it is essential to exercise caution and ensure proper identification before consuming any wild plant, as some members of the Apiaceae family can be toxic.


Pepper-saxifrage filmed at Clattinger Farm in Wiltshire on the 28th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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