Coriander & Cilantro Photos

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Economic Plant Photographs #25

Herbs & Vegetables Of The Carrot Family

Carrot Family: Apiaceae = Umbelliferae

Coriander, Fennel, Parsnip, Celery, Carrot & Dill

1. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum):

Coriandrum sativum: An herb with two names. Coriander seeds are ground and used as a tasty seasoning. The aromatic leaves are called cilantro and are used as garnish and in salsas and guacamoles. They are very popular in Mexican dishes and really enhance the flavor of salads, tacos and burritos.

2. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare):

Leaf stalks (petioles) and fruits of sweel fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). The fruits are technically called schizocarps, each splitting apart into two indehiscent, one-seeded carpels called mericarps. This valuable herb has edible, licorice-flavored leaf stalks and seeds. The leaves are used in salads, sauces and soups. Ground or whole fennel seeds are used in stuffings, sausages, breads, cookies, cakes, candies and liqueurs. The cooked leaf bases are eaten as a vegetable. This plant is often sold in markets as anise, another member of the carrot family. Sweet fennel is a common naturalized weed in San Diego County, easily recognized by its size (over six feet tall), finely cut (dissected) leaves, and licorice aroma of its foliage.

3. Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa):

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). The large taproots of this eastern Mediterranean herb are eaten raw in salads. They are also bolied, steamed and baked. Like carrots, they were introduced into North America by early settlers of the United States. If wild parsnips are gathered and eaten, one should be very careful not to mistake them for water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii).

4. Celery (Apium graveolens):

Celery (Apium graveolens). The crispy petioles (leaf stalks) of this Eurasian herb are a popular raw vegetable in salads. They are also cooked and used in soups and stews. Celery has been used as a vegetable since ancient Greek and Roman times. Celeriac or celery root (bottom left in photo) is a variety of celery with a large, swollen root. It is a popular vegetable in Europe where it is used in salads and cooked as a side dish. Wild celery is a common naturalized weed in riverbeds and creeks of San Diego County.

5. Carrot (Daucus carota):

Carrot (Daucus carota). The large taproots of this European herb are one of the most popular vegetables in North America. Like other biennial herbs, carrots store up food reserves in the main taproot during the first summer of growth, and then flower and die the following year. Carrots are typically harvested by the end of their first growing season. Wild flowering carrots are called Queen Anne's Lace, supposedly named after Queen Anne of England (1665-1714). Queen Anne apparently won an embroidery contest to see who could produce lace as beautiful as the intricate clusters of tiny white flowers of the wild carrot. Carrot roots are rich in the tetraterpene beta-carotene (C40H56), the precursor of the anti-oxidant vitamin A (C20H30O). During digestion, each beta-carotene molecule is broken down into two molecules of vitamin A. Vitamin A is also called retinol because it is almost identical to the retinol present in the rod cells of the retina of human eyes. Rod cells are sensitive to light and enable one to see at dusk and in dimly illuminated areas. A native species called rattlesnake weed or wild carrot (Daucus pusillus) occurs in the coastal sage and chaparral covered hillsides of San Diego County, especially after a fire.

A flowering carrot (Daucus carota), also called Queen Anne's Lace. Wild flowering carrots are called Queen Anne's Lace, supposedly named after Queen Anne of England (1665-1714). Queen Anne apparently won an embroidery contest to see who could produce lace as beautiful as the intricate clusters of tiny white flowers of the wild carrot.

A field of carrots (Daucus carota) in the fertile Twin Oaks Valley of northern San Diego County. The carrots are planted between the trees of an old grove of English walnuts (Juglans regia).

6. Dill (Anethum graveolens):

A field of dill (Anethum graveolens) near Kalispell, Montana.

Close-up view of dill (Anethum graveolens) from Kalispell, Montana.

7. Poisonous Herbs In The Apiaceae

Left: Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum); and right: water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii). Both species have compound leaves; however, the leaves of poison hemlock are more fernlike with smaller leaf divisions, while those of water hemlock have broader leaflets with serrate margins. In addition, the stems of poison hemlock are dotted with purple blotches. Although both species have very poisonous foliage and taproots, the toxic chemicals are very different. Poison hemlock contains the toxic alkaloid coniine, while water hemlock contains a very poisonous terpene called cicutoxin. They both cause paralysis and death, although poison hemlock is apparently less convulsive. A highly concentrated mixture of coniine and possibly other alkaloids prepared from the root of poison hemlock was probably the "hemlock" used to execute Socrates in 399 B.C. when he was judged to be an a enemy of the people. Poison hemlock is a tall, naturalized European weed throughout coastal San Diego County. Water hemlock is a native perennial in marshes and along water courses of the mountains and coastal valleys. The latter plant is especially dangerous because it grows intermixed with edible herbs such as wild celery (Apium graveolens) and water cress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum).

Water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii) in scenic Owens Valley of California.

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