Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley)
|Also known as:||Erect Hedge Parsley|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; disturbed soil, edges of woods, thickets, along roads|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in flat clusters (umbels) 1½ to 2 inches across, in groups (umbellets) of 10 to 20 flowers each. Clusters are at the top of the plant and at the end of stems that arise opposite the leaves. Individual flowers are white, about 1/8 inch across with 5 notched petals of unequal size, a creamy white center and 5 white to pink stamens. The flowers on the outer edge of an umbellet open first; the unopened flowers may have a pinkish tinge.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in groups of 3 to 5, up to 5 inches long, 4 inches wide, alternately attached with a small sheath where the leaf stalk joins the stem. In the lower part of the plant, leaflets are feathery and fern-like. Leaves near the flowers at the top of the plant are smaller and less deeply divided.
Fruit is oval, about 1/8 inch long and covered in hooked hairs. It ripens to brown and splits into 2 seeds. The hooks attach the seed to nearly anything that comes in contact with it and help it spread.
This is a new alien species to Minnesota, and quite invasive. An article from the Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin says this could be even worse than Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) so warrants careful watch. There are several species of carrot with small white flowers and feathery leaves and can be easily confused. When I first came upon the sprouting leaves in May I thought it might be Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) but once it started flowering it was obviously something else, since Queen Anne's Lace has large, showy bracts. A good way to ID this is by the few, narrow bracts at the base of the umbel—that along with the texture of the stem were the clinchers for me. Combine that with hooked hairs on the fruit and you've probably nailed it. Early in the season the plants look open and airy but fill in with many branches as they mature. It seems to have a preference for moist soil and part shade, but apparently will grow almost anywhere. This new invader needs quick action against it.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- mature Japanese Hedge Parsley plant
- early season plant
- early spring growth, with Creeping Charlie
- Japanese Hedge-parsely emerging with Garlic Mustard
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?