Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

Members of this familar family have alternate leaves, widening at the base into a sheath that clasps the stem. The stems are often furrowed. Some part of the plant will usually have a strong aroma of some sort - these aromas (and flavors, in some instances) of carrot, parsley, coriander, parsnip, celery, fennel, dill and anise are due primarily to various oils produced by the plant.

The usually compound flowers are almost always concentrated in flat-topped umbels; the rays of the primary umbel giving rise to a secondary unbel with the flower-bearing pedicels. The flowers have 5 petals, usually uneven, and 5 stamens. The seeds and fruit form below where the petals and stamen originate. Seeds are in tight pairs, often conspicuously ribbed, and sometime "winged".

Some members of this family are poisonous, some are irratating to the skin; handle unfamilar plants with caution.

Members of Apiaceae found on Montara Mountain include:

Angelica hendersonii
(Henderson's Angelica)

Foeniculum vulgare

Sanicula arctopoides

Conium maculatum 
(Poison Hemlock)

Heracleum lanatum
(Cow Parsnip)

Sanicula crassicaulis
(Pacific Sanicle)

Daucus carota
(Queen Anne's Lace)

Oenanthe sarmentosa
(Pacific Oenanthe)




 Foeniculum vulgare

Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

 Flowers: Yellow, small, 5 tiny petals in slightly domed compound umbel.

Blooms: May - December

Leaves: Up to 30 cm long; soft and lacey; bipinnately compound, divided into thread-like divisions.

Fruit/Seeds: Small brown laterally ribbed footballs.

Location: Disturbed areas, most roads & trails at lower elevations.

Status: Alien Invasive - Common.

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Foeniculum vulgare

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Further description & Comment: 3 to 6 feet tall, with waxy-blue canelike stems. Very distinct sweet licorice smell when handled or broken.

This is the same plant that is grown commercially for its root, stems and leaves, and is also an annoying invasive (altho it doesn't spread as fast as Poison Hemlock). So feel free to harvest it wherever you might find it growing wild.



 Heracleum lanatum
Cow Parsnip

Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

 Flowers: White, tiny, star-like with an interesting, sweet smell (smells like tortillas to me) , in clusters from ball-shaped to flat, 6 - 12 inch umbrels. Opens from huge geen pod atop stems.

Blooms: March - May.

Leaves: Made up of three huge maple-like leaflets, 1 - 2 ft across.

Fruit/Seeds: Papery, dark brown, segmented flattened fruit containing dark seeds.

Location: Damp slopes along bluff trails or near creeks - Common throughout Montara Mountain - easily found along Gray Whale Cove trail and San Pedro Road.

Status: Native - Common.

Heracleum lanatum

An umbrel of perfect round flower clusters on Gray Whale Cove trail in McNee Ranch State Park.

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Further description & Comment: In areas where Heracleum lanatum (Cow Parsnip) and Angelica hendersonii. grow together, Cow Parsnip is the one with the BIG leaves that blooms first, as early as late February.

The image to the lower right shows the large maple-like leaves of Heracleum - the smaller and lobed leaves of Angelica. can be seen in the lower left. The image to the lower right shows the papery nut-brown fruit, each containing many small dark seeds.

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 Oenanthe sarmentosa
Pacific Oenanthe

Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

 Flowers: White, small, 5 tiny petals in domed compound umbel.

Blooms: June - October

Leaves: Olive colored; alternate, pinnately-compound; slightly toothed; thin and curled when fresh, but flattening out to broad leaflets.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Wet areas, seeps, creeks.

Status: Native - Common.

Oenanthe sarmentosa
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Further description & Comment: 2 to 4 feet tall; reddish succulent stems, often with new growth appearing tendril-like.

Oenanthe is one of the many summertime plants from Apiaceae that pop-up in the creek areas - it suddenly appears to growing out from everywhere, often twining through bushes to hang it's flowers out in the light. At first, I thought it was a sort of water hemlock or weedy invavsive, but was pleased to discover it was a native and that's the way it grows.

The image at left shows the newly forming and mature leaves. 600x450 JPEG - 44K


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