Here are four plants that are in flower now – two garden plants and two wildflowers. They are all members of the Umbellifer family which includes the root vegetables carrot and parsnip, the herbs parsley, fennel, celery and dill, decorative garden plants such as eryngium and astrantia and wild flowers such as carrot, cow parsley, hogweed and pignut. The family name is based on the genus Apium which was first used in 50 AD to describe a celery-like plant such as Apium graveolens Wild Celery. Apium could mean ‘liked by bees’. The common name Umbellifer is from the arrangement of the flowers in a compound umbel – a main umbel branching into many partial umbels, as in the wild carrot.
Mediterranean Sea Holly Eryngium bourgatii is a popular garden plant.
Wild Carrot Daucus carota has a single deep purple flower at its centre. Its function is unknown. It is a common wildflower that appears in June. The subspecies sativus is cultivated worldwide as a root crop.
Great Masterwort Astrantia major was introduced to Britain in the 16th century and is a popular garden plant.
Hogweed Heracleum spondylium is a common native wildflower that grows to a height of 2m in May or June. The Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum was introduced from Asia as an ornamental but has escaped. It is found along river banks and can reach 7m in height. It should be avoided because its sap causes burns.