Open the Advanced Search

Knotted Hedge Parsley

Torilis nodosa

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, grassland, meadows, roadsides, sea cliffs, seaside, walls, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
The pinkish-white flowers appear in small umbels measuring just 5 to 12mm across. Very short stalked.
Egg-shaped, warty and bristly fruit.
A hairy annual flower with 1 to 3-pinnate leaves. The leaflets are oblong, pointed, and appear in opposite pairs. The stems are not hollow.
Other Names:
Short Sock-destroyer.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Torilis nodosa, commonly known as Knotted hedge-parsley, is a species of flowering plant in the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and is typically found growing in meadows, pastures, along roadsides, and other disturbed areas. It has small white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant is considered an invasive weed in many parts of the world, and can be difficult to control once established. Its leaves, stems, and seeds are edible and have been traditionally used in salads and as a seasoning in some dishes. It's also used in traditional medicine. It's very similar to Torilis arvensis and Torilis japonica. What differentiates T. nodosa is the presence of small knob-like protuberances or nodes on the stem.


Knotted Hedge Parsley, also known as Torilis nodosa, is a common plant species that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa, but has also been introduced to North America and Australia.


Knotted Hedge Parsley is a biennial plant that can grow up to 60 cm tall. It has a slender, erect stem that is ribbed and hairy. The leaves are divided into three segments and are also hairy. The flowers are small and white, arranged in umbels, and bloom from June to August. The fruits are tiny, oval-shaped and covered in spines, which can stick to clothing or animal fur, aiding in seed dispersal.


Knotted Hedge Parsley is a versatile plant that can grow in a variety of habitats, including meadows, fields, hedgerows, and disturbed areas such as roadsides and waste grounds. It prefers moist soils and partial shade, but can also tolerate dry and sunny conditions.

Ecological Impacts

While Knotted Hedge Parsley is not considered a highly invasive species, it can still have ecological impacts. The spiny fruits can attach to clothing or animal fur, aiding in seed dispersal, which can cause the plant to spread rapidly in new areas. Once established, Knotted Hedge Parsley can outcompete native species, reducing biodiversity in local ecosystems. It can also serve as a host for pests and diseases that can impact other plants.


Knotted Hedge Parsley has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections and digestive issues. However, it should be noted that its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven, and consuming the plant can be dangerous as it contains compounds that can be toxic in high doses.

Knotted Hedge Parsley is a common plant species that can be found in many regions of the world. While it is not considered highly invasive, it can have ecological impacts and should be monitored. It is also important to note that while it has been used in traditional medicine, its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven and it should not be consumed without proper guidance.

Additional Information

Knotted Hedge Parsley, or Torilis nodosa, is also known by several other common names, including False Hedge Parsley, Wild Chervil, and Beggar's Lice. The plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine and folklore, with various parts of the plant used to treat respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin conditions.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Knotted Hedge Parsley has also been used in culinary applications, particularly in Eastern European cuisine. The leaves and young shoots can be used to add a slightly bitter, parsley-like flavor to soups, stews, and salads. However, caution should be exercised when using the plant in cooking, as the spiny fruits can be easily overlooked and may pose a choking hazard.

As a member of the Apiaceae family, Knotted Hedge Parsley is related to other plants with edible and medicinal properties, such as celery, fennel, and parsley. However, it is important to note that some members of this family can be toxic or allergenic, so proper identification is key before consuming or using any part of the plant.

In terms of conservation status, Knotted Hedge Parsley is not currently considered threatened or endangered. However, as with all non-native species, it is important to monitor its spread and impact on local ecosystems to prevent any negative effects on native biodiversity.

Knotted Hedge Parsley also has some interesting cultural and historical significance. In European folklore, the plant was believed to have protective properties against evil spirits and was used to ward off witches and other supernatural beings. The spiny fruits were also used as a charm or amulet to protect against the evil eye.

In addition, Knotted Hedge Parsley has been used in traditional dyeing techniques. The plant contains a yellow pigment that can be extracted and used to dye natural fibers, such as wool and silk.

In terms of its ecological role, Knotted Hedge Parsley provides habitat and food for a variety of insects and other wildlife. Its flowers are visited by a range of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, and the spiny fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals.

In some cultures, Knotted Hedge Parsley has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is believed to have diuretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, edema, and urinary tract infections.

In addition, Knotted Hedge Parsley has been studied for its potential as a source of natural compounds with therapeutic properties. Some studies have shown that the plant contains compounds with antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, which may have applications in the development of new drugs or natural remedies.

Interestingly, Knotted Hedge Parsley has also been used as a natural insect repellent. The plant contains compounds that are toxic to insects, and has been used to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and other pests.

In terms of cultivation, Knotted Hedge Parsley can be grown from seed and prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. It can be used as a decorative plant in borders or wildflower gardens, or as a useful addition to a medicinal or culinary herb garden.

Overall, Knotted Hedge Parsley is a fascinating and versatile plant with a long history of human use and cultural significance. Its potential medicinal, culinary, and ecological benefits make it an important plant to study and protect, while its potential dangers and impacts on local ecosystems should be carefully monitored.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map