A member of the carrot family common along hedge rows in coastal regions.
|Scientific Name||Smyrnium olusatrum|
|Family||Carrot Family Umbelliferae|
|Species Reference||blamey 194.4|
Alexanders: the horse parsley - The carrot family is a diverse one with many species, some very common and others, as you might expect, very rare. One of the first of the family to flower each year is alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) which can flower from March onwards until June.
The 'umbels' (ie carrot family) are named as such because of their 'umbrella' shaped flower heads and they can be difficult to tell apart but alexanders is easy because it has a pale green flower head where as most of the family are white, cream or yellow. It also has large glossy leaves which is unusual in the carrot family. It is a stout and robust plant and cannot be missed, it is quite an imposing plant.
Alexanders is a fairly local plant confined to coastal regions Britain and I had not seen it until we moved here to Dorset where it is plentiful near the coast. It quite often grows in hedgerows and on banks inland but hardly more than five miles from the sea.
I have no idea where it gets its name. It is really a native of the Mediterranean region but may have been introduced to Britain, possibly by the Romans, as a food crop similar to celery but that has long since stopped. Apparently it is much savoured by horses hence its other common name of horse parsley so may be their is a connection with Alexander the Great and his horse?
These are nature reserves and wildlife hot-spots where I have recorded this species
|Site||Notes||Record Date||Report Date|
|Abbotsbury||Wild Flower Walks (see bibliography)|
|Arne Nature Reserve||Present|
|Broadcroft Quarry Nature Reserve||Present|
|Church Ope Cove||Present|
|Corfe Castle Common||Along the road from the village to the common|
|Corfe Castle Mound and River||Common along the path|
|Ferrybridge and Portland Causeway||Present|
|Kilwood Coppice Nature Reserve||Local|
|King Barrow Quarry Nature Reserve||Present|
|Wild Flower Walks (see bibliography)|
|Perryfields Nature Reserve||Present|
|Purbeck Ridge (Ridgeway Hill and Steeple Hill)||Present|
|Purbeck Ridge (West Hill and Knowle Hill)||Present|
|Radipole Lake Nature Reserve||Common|
|Rodden Hive and Herbury Gore Nature Reserve||Present|
|Tout Quarry Nature Reserve||Occasional|
|Wareham Walls and Priory Meadows||Common|
|West Bexington Nature Reserve and Cogden Beach||Present|