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Cambridge Milk Parsley

Selinum carvifolia

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
The flowers appear in umbels, 3 to 7cm across. The upper bracts of the flowers are thread-like. Lower bracts are absent from the flowers. 5 stamens. 2 styles.
Egg-shaped fruit with winged ridges. Cambridge Milk Parsley is similar in appearance to Milk Parsley (Thyselium palustre) but the three dorsal ridges of its fruit are winged.
A clump-forming, deciduous perennial with erect, branching stems. The stalked, 2 to 3-pinnate, light green leaves are alternate along the stems. The leaves are very pointed at the ends. The ends are tipped with white. Similar in appearance to Milk Parsley (Thyselium palustre) but has hollow purplish stems, whereas Cambridge Milk Parsley has solid green stems.
Other Names:
Himalayan Parsley, Little-leaf Angelica, Milk Parsley, Milkweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Selinum carvifolia, commonly known as Cambridge Milk Parsley, is a species of flowering plant in the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is typically found growing in meadows, pastures, along roadsides, and other damp habitats. It has small white or pinkish flowers that bloom in the summer and it's a perennial herb. The leaves, stems, and seeds are edible but should be avoided because of its toxicity. This plant is also known to be toxic to livestock, and can cause severe stomach and intestinal problems if consumed. It's also used as a medicinal herb in traditional medicine, but should be used with care due to its toxicity.


Cambridge Milk Parsley, also known by its scientific name Selinum carvifolia, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. This plant is native to Europe, where it grows in damp meadows, on riverbanks, and in other wet habitats.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley is a biennial or perennial plant that can grow up to a height of 1.5 meters. It has a hollow stem with finely divided, fern-like leaves that give the plant a delicate, feathery appearance. The plant produces small white flowers in large, flat-topped umbels that can measure up to 30 centimeters across. The flowers bloom from June to August and are followed by greenish-brown fruits that are about 5 millimeters long.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley is a popular plant in traditional medicine, where it has been used to treat a variety of ailments. The plant's roots, leaves, and seeds contain a number of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and coumarins, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and diuretic properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the Cambridge Milk Parsley is also a popular ornamental plant. Its delicate foliage and large, showy flowers make it a favorite among gardeners, who often plant it in wet areas or near water features.

Despite its many positive attributes, the Cambridge Milk Parsley is not without its drawbacks. The plant contains several toxic compounds, including furanocoumarins, which can cause skin irritation and make the plant unsuitable for consumption by humans or livestock.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley has also been the subject of scientific research, which has confirmed many of its traditional medicinal uses. For example, studies have shown that the plant's roots have anti-inflammatory effects and can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism.

Other research has focused on the plant's potential as an anti-cancer agent. A study published in the journal Fitoterapia found that an extract of the Cambridge Milk Parsley had cytotoxic effects against several human cancer cell lines, including breast and prostate cancer cells.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley is also a valuable habitat plant, providing food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, including insects, birds, and small mammals. Its flowers are particularly attractive to bees and butterflies, making it an important plant for pollinators.

In recent years, the Cambridge Milk Parsley has become an increasingly rare sight in the wild, due in large part to habitat loss and fragmentation. In response, conservation efforts have been undertaken to protect and restore the plant's natural habitats.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders and urinary tract infections. In medieval Europe, it was used as a remedy for coughs, colds, and respiratory infections.

Today, the plant is still used in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. In Ayurveda, the plant's roots are used to treat digestive disorders and fever, while in traditional Chinese medicine, the seeds are used to treat pain and swelling.

Aside from its medicinal and ornamental uses, the Cambridge Milk Parsley has also been used in culinary applications. The leaves have a sweet, anise-like flavor and are used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces in some parts of Europe.

In terms of cultivation, the Cambridge Milk Parsley prefers moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. It can be propagated by seed or division in the spring or fall. In the garden, the plant can be used to create a naturalistic, cottage garden effect, or to add a touch of elegance to a water feature or pond.

The Cambridge Milk Parsley has also been used in folklore and superstition. In some parts of Europe, it was believed that the plant had magical properties and could be used to ward off evil spirits. In other cultures, the plant was associated with fertility and was used in fertility rituals and spells.

Interestingly, the name "milk parsley" comes from the plant's ability to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers. The plant's seeds were traditionally used to make a tonic that could increase milk production and improve the quality of breast milk.

In addition to its use in traditional medicine, the Cambridge Milk Parsley has also been studied for its potential as a source of new drugs. Researchers have identified several bioactive compounds in the plant, including carvifolide, which has been found to have antimicrobial and antifungal activity.

Overall, the Cambridge Milk Parsley is a plant with many intriguing properties and uses. While it may not be a familiar plant to many, its long history of traditional use and potential for scientific discovery make it a plant worth exploring and appreciating.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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