Words by Abi Himan
It's hard not to be swept away by the swathes of frothy, foamy, floaty cow parsley flowers that fill the hedgerows of the UK all May long. The glittering freshness of white on green, generally glimpsed by the dappled sunlight pouring through a leafy bough overhead affirms, even in the coolest of Springs, that winter is over and longer nights and sunny, warmer days are near.
The sense of romance these dainty little wildflowers inspire is nothing new.
In his poem, The House of Life: 19. Silent Moon, the Pre-Raphaelite master Dante Gabriel Rossetti laments on how delicate cow parsley colours hawthorn hedges on a calm Spring day.
For you, cow parsley may go by another name - keck, Queen Anne's Lace, wild chevril, mother-die, fairy lace, Scabby May. It's also very similar in appearance to many others in the Umbellifer family, it's surprising the poor thing isn't suffering an identity crisis.
Queen Anne's Lace is particular favourite (though there are a few other Umbellifers that might claim this as their own - we're looking at you Ammi Visagna and Daucus Carota). Story has it, that in the 18th century Queen Anne would make her travels around the country in May each year, and it was her assumption that the roadsides had been planted up just for her, the lucky duck.
The slightly more ominous mother-die comes from folklore that if it was bought into the house your mother would die. Probably down to its close resemblance to the extremely toxic hemlock and some poor sod who thought they were bringing their mum some nice flowers - pick with care!