Nature on our doorsteps: From the wild to the wonderful

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures.

Many of the vegetables we know today were originally bred from wild plants. One example is the Wild Carrot, which is in flower at the moment in our parks and along roadside verges.

Nature Collage September 7

 

Wild Carrot is a member of the ‘Umbellifer’ family of plants.

This family also includes Cow Parsley which blooms in the spring and Common Hogweed which flowers in early summer.

In the kitchen, we cook with other members of this group such as parsnip, parsley, dill, and coriander. Some members of this family however, such as hemlock, are quite poisonous.

Umbellifers are easy to recognise as their flat heads of mostly white or cream flowers are carried on stalks that rise centrally from a sturdy stem, just like the spokes of an umbrella.

The tiny flowers of Wild Carrot are generally white, but on many flower heads, look out for pink or purple-coloured little florets in the very centre of the spray.

It is thought that these different coloured florets act as an insect mimic, attracting particular insects to the flower head to help with pollination.

Wild Carrot provides abundant pollen and nectar for insects and is particularly attractive to the Red Soldier Beetle whose bright orangey-red body shows up particularly well against the white flowers.

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