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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

26 January, 2016

Parsley-piert: breaking up stones

Identification of plants can be difficult at times but there are plants that are difficult to find before you actually even start to try and identify them! Parsley-piert (Aphanes arvensis) certainly falls in to this latter category. Whilst most plants have a flower to attract your attention and to give you a start with identification parsley-piert has tiny, petalless flowers with just green sepals visible under a hand lens. How often must one walk over it without even noticing its presence, it is not a rare plant as such.
On the plus side, though, it does tend to form dense patches which increases your chances of finding it. It has leaves resembling the garden herb, parsley, but it is not related as it is, remarkably, a member of the rose family. It favours dry, bare ground and can be found in fields and waste places.
There is also a close relative called slender parsley-piert which is very similar with just a difference in the fruits, again visible only with a hand lens. Parsley-piert favours lime soils, the slender cousin favours non-lime soils so that might help.
Herbalists consider this to be good for treating complaints of the liver and for removing stones from the body which gives it its other name parsley breakstone.
Parsley-piert: breaking up stones