Pursuing the Giant Root Chervil

I’ve had the turnip-rooted chervil, Chaerophyllum bulbosum, in my garden for maybe 20 years. It’s grown well, self-seeds, but the tubers rarely get bigger than a thumb nail. The biggest I’ve seen were on a picture my Bulgarian friend Hristo Hristov showed on the Homegrown Goodness forum back in 2009:
See http://alanbishop.proboards.com/thread/2585/turnip-rooted-chevril
He kindly sent me these tubers in March 2010, originating from seed from the French seed company Baumaux. Sadly they got smaller rather than bigger..

While we’re on the subject, this reminded me of some notes compiled by another Homegrown Goodness luminary and entrusted to me back in 2010. I’m publishing this in case it inspires others to pursue the giant root chervil grail! I’m sure some of the links below won’t work now!

Chaerophyllum prescottii (Siberian Chervil, Prescott Chervil, Cerfeuil de Prescott) A Compendium of Information and References to the Plant and its Cultivation.

Compiled and edited by Steve Dupey. January 2010.

Siberian Chervil (Chaerophyllum prescottii) is not to be confused with the better known Bulbous Chervil, aka Parsnip Rooted Chervil, Tuberous Chervil, or Turnip Rooted Chervil (Chaerophyllum bulbosum). The latter species has been improved through cultivation and selection to a larger tubered commercially grown form, while C. prescottii seems to have been abandoned and long forgotten after an initial period of enthusiastic interest and experimental cultivation in the mid to last half of the nineteeth century. The reasons for this failure as a potential new crop- plant are not clear, but both species seem to have been somewhat fickle in cultivation. C. bulbosum was only resently improved through French breeding programs and mass-selection begun during the 1980s and it is still considered to be a difficult plant to grow, though it is cultivated commercially on a limited basis in regions where the climate and soil are suitable (France). Chaerophyllum prescottii would appear to be just as amenable to cultivation, selection, and improvement, but seems to have lost out to bulbous chervil in this regard. Some reports suggest that the flavor isn’t as good, and possibly this is the main reason, but other sources suggest that the flavor is quite good and equal to that of C. bulbosum. I wonder if such differing reports on flavor might reflect a difference between first year tubers and second year tubers, though both are stated to be fully edible. Other attributes of the plant such as the lack of seed dormancy, larger roots and perennial nature, with tender non-fibrous roots even in full seed, would seem to have made C. prescottii the superior candidate of the two species for cultivation and improvement. With modern plant breeding methods and techniques such as tissue culture and embryonic rescue, the prospect of hybridization with C. bulbosum or a renewed exploration of Chaerophyllum prescottii in cultivation for its own merits seems to be in order.

I have grown the closely related Chaerophyllum bulbosum. It is a large biennial bulbous-rooted biennial of fine flavor and texture when harvested in late fall. Plants go dormant in summer, and the tubers need to undergo a period of autumn cold exposure before sweetening and becoming edible. I found that the plant only grows with great difficulty form me in an interior continental climate (zone 5), going dormant in summer before the tubers can attain large size. Many pea-tubers are the usual result except for in the case of the few plants which I managed to baby through summer (in shade). These revived somewhat and seemed to continue growing fairly well with the onset of cooler fall temperatures, eventually producing some fairly large tubers of a size similar to fat half-long carrots.  In cool maritime climates with long cool and moist spring weather the plant probably does much better. It is reported to need sandy well-drained continually moist soil. Where it does grow well the fall-planted sprouting seeds are said to be up by the end of February or early March and to form full-sized tubers by July, whereupon the soil has dried and the plants have yellowed and gone dormant. These tubers are either harvested, stored, and subjected to periods of cold exposure before being eaten, or left in the ground to be harvested and eaten in the late fall and winter. Root-crown buds formed in the fall of the first year, and these were a good indication that the tubers had undergone enough sweetening and flavor enhancement to be ready for consumption in my cultivation attempts. The plants and tubers are extremely cold hardy, with over-wintered tubers for seed production sprouting and beginning growth even under the snow. Seeds need 6 to 8 weeks of cold moist stratification before sprouting. This can be accomplished either under the snow with fall-sown seed or in the more controlled conditions of a sealed container of moist sand in the refrigerator. The newly sprouted seedlings are very attractive to rodents and most will be eaten quickly if not protected.

Factors triggering summer dormancy are not well known in C. bulbosum. We can expect that biennial plants of Eurasian origin where summers are hot and dry would produce genetics for such dormancy as a drought survival mechanism. The dormancy of wild plants from higher latitudes or continually moist regions of origin should be examined. The plant grows at high latitudes in Scandinavia, but seems to be reported as an introduction there. Growth and dormancy of these plants in higher latitudes should be compared with that of plants in other climatic regions. The effect of photoperiod on dormancy is not explained. Perhaps soil or air temperatures and their fluction are the dormancy triggers, though intensity of sunlight may also be the cause if not some combination of any of these factors. This issue of tuber dormancy in summer needs to be examined further. Elimination of such genetically programmed dormancy would allow the plant several more months of tuber growth and bulking. It is not well examined, but this may be an important area of difference between C. bulbosum and C. prescottii in terms or their potential as more easily grown tuber producing crops. If so, hybridization between the two species would seem to hold the prospect of plants with hybrid vigor, showing no seed dormancy, and possibly growing throughout the summer to produce much larger tubers of excellant flavor in their first season. Induced mutation-breeding is another prospective solution here.

Chaerophyllum prescottii sounds like it has some valuable growth characteristics which might make it the easiest and best of the two plants to grow, or if bred into C. bulbosum as a hybrid could yield some agriculturally very useful plants. Hybridization between the two species is not reported, but modern embryonic rescue methods might make such crossing possible. C. prescottii was formerly considered a subspecies of C. bulbosum, but then attained distinct species status of its own. Reports of vegetative propation via root-crown sprouts or pea tubers, and the reports that there are perennial forms, suggest that even infertile hybrids might be valuable acquisitions which perhaps could be clonally propagated by these other methods. Hybrids also might prove to be fertile. Seed dormancy and the need for cold moist stratification is not an issue for C. prescottii, so the seeds can be spring-planted. Introducing this characteristic into a hybrid of C. bulbosum would be quite useful and valuable, as might be any of the other germplasm variability which C. prescottii could impart. The references to vegetative propagation by root-crown (or collar buds) or via pea-tubers (if the plants are truly perennial) is intriguing. The clonal propagation of sterile hybrids or high-yielding sterile triploids should be explored. Hybrid vigor might yield much larger tubers and better growing plants. Polyploidization also seems like a worthy crop improvement goal for either species or for induced crosses between the two. Tetraploid or triploid plants might exhibit gigas effect or vigorous enhanced growth forms.


Both species appear to be diploids with chromosome numbers of 2n=22.




http://www.plantarium.ru/page/image/id/10405.html Best Photo Galleries for wild growing C. prescottii.




Notes on Chaerophyllum prescottii derived from online sources and translations of early works:


The tuberous roots of C. prescottii have golden/yellow skins. Early forms of C. bulbosum are said to be blackish or gray skinned, so this color difference in the roots of the wild plants may be a good way to distinguish between the two similar species in the field, though none of the floral keys mention this.(More recently released French produced commercial cultivars of C. bulbosum do have golden skins, but dark skinned forms were and may still be grown commercially.) The roots (of C. prescottii) are spindle shaped, vertically growing, longer than those of C. bulbosum, 28 mm diameter or more in good ground (when they reach their second year). Another report gives tuber measurements of 5 cm diameter for C. prescottii compared to 2 cm diameter for C. bulbosum (wild forms) from a Swedish paper below. This corroborates reports of the roots indeed being much larger. Flesh is delicate and white like that of C. bulbosum.


Tuberous roots are spoken of as biennial or a biennial/perennial and fully edible even when seeding. These reports may actually refer to plants which happen to seed atypically in their first year of growth so it is uncertain if this tender/edible characteristic remains true for succeeding years. Such first-year seeding is mentioned in one report which states that the plants will seed in their first year if planted too early in summer. Another states that the seeds should not be sown before July or the plants will rapidly run to seed (Vilmorin-Andrieux). The early cultivation reports describe C. prescottii as being perennial, but most floral keys describe the species as either biennial or biennial/perennial.  Root-crown buds are said to be plantable but yield smaller tubers, however these are suggested as being suitable for planting in the spring. Pea-tubers are said to be planted in fall as one means of propagation, and it sounds like they will give larger tubers at the end of the next growing season than fall-planted seed does. These tubers presumably remain tender and non-fibrous in this second year also, but there is some uncertainty here just which year of flowering is being referred to. If the plant is truly perennial and remains tender-rooted, there is no reason small tubers should not continually increase in size until a satisfactory bulk is reached in their second year. This is guite different from the growth of C. bulbosum, which puts up a robust profusely flowering seedplant throughout its second season. For C. bulbosum, the roots become fibrous and relatively inedible during this second year, much as do biennial carrots or parsnips when seeding. The energy reserves within the roots are withdrawn and exhausted in producing the vigorous seeding, whereupon the plant dies. If C. prescottii does indeed produce continually edible perennial tubers, this would seem to present a useful solution to one of the main problems afflicting Chaerophyllum cultivation, production of undersized pea-tubers which go dormant in summer before attaining useful size (at least this is the case where climate and soil conditions are not optimal for growth). Such perenniating tubers would not only represent a source for continual vegetative propagation, but they could be grown out to a usable edible size in their second season and then harvested.

Both species are said to grow as weeds in other crops and to have naturalized in other European countries. This could be serious obstacle to their further introduction and acceptance as new crops. Sterile vegetatively propagated forms would be a solution to this problem. In Russia, C. prescottii is reported to never show a reservoir of dormant seeds within the soil, but is known to produce tubers which can remain dormant for up to ten years before being stimulated to new-growth by fire or soil disturbances such as cultivation. It is unknown if such dormant tubers would be produced when the plant is under constant cultivation or if its growth would be continually stimulated instead. It is also unknown if such dormancy in wild tubers occurs after the plant’s first season of growth or if it is a feature of perennial tubers at various ages. The full growth cycle of Chaerophyllum prescottii should be experimentially investigated, and factors affecting its growth, tuberization, propagation, and potential as a new crop plant, should be examined under cultivation.


The original report that I have found on Chaerophyllum prescottii which gives the most information on its characteristics as a potential crop plant is reproduced in two agricultural periodicals of the ninteenth century, The Working Farmer, 1855, page 201, and The New York Horticultural Review, 1856, page 66. Both periodicals reproduce the original report in nearly identical manner:

We find in the “Revue Horticole” an account of  “Two New Esculents”, which are said to deserve notice.  Having no personal acquaintance with them we confine ourselves to a translation of what is said about them by Mr. Muller (Mueller), superintendent of the Botanical Garden, Upsal, who sent the seeds to the Botanic Garden, Hamburgh:

“I particularly recommend to your notice these two new kitchen garden plants, Chaerophyllum Prescottii, and Rumex vesicarius. We received the first from St. Petersburgh in the spring of 1852, but it did not occur to me till last autumn that its fleshy root as large as a parsnip, might be worth cooking.  The seeds being then ripe it was to have been expected that the roots would prove woody; but I was agreeably surprised to find it tender and very nice (de tres bon gout).  In flavor it is not unlike the Turnip-rooted Chervil (Chaerophyllum bulbosum), but as it is much larger and good even after seeding, it is a much more useful plant.  Cultivation will probably increase its size.  In my case the seeds were sown in spring, but I should expect the roots to become larger if the seeds are sown in autumn, like those of Chaerophyllum bulbosum.  The plant is a perennial and not biennial like that plant.  As it is a native of Siberia, cold has no power over it, and it succeeds perfectly in damp garden soil.  It might be called the Turnip-rooted Siberian Chervil.”


Report on Chaerophyllum prescottii, its description and cultivation,1857 (Google translation from French to English)

Belgique horticole: Annales de botanique et d’horticulture, 7‎ – 285 Belgique horticole – 1857


For a very long time residents of the Urals and the Altais gathered and ate for nourishement the tuberous underground parts of a plant of the Umbelliferae family which grows naturally in those parts. This plant resembles our cultivated chervil to the extent that ancient travelers who observed it in Siberia including Falk and George L confused it with that one, however, in Gmelin’s Flora of Siberia it was distinguished and given the name of Chervil root Turbi born fleshy (Chaerophyllum radice turbinata carnosa). Siberian Chervil was first introduced from Saint Petersburg Botanical Gardens, but botanists of this great institution had paid no attention to its possible merits as a food plant. From the herbarium of Saint Petersburg, samples in flower and fruit of this species came into the hands of Mr Prescott, British botanist in Berne, who communicated them to De Candolle for use when he produced for his Prodromus of the family Umbellifers. The famous botanist at Geneva gave the plant its species name Chaerophyllum prescottii.  It was only in 1852 that the seeds of this plant were sent from Saint Petersburg to the botanical garden of Uppsala. Daniel M Mueller, gardener of this establishment, having noticed in the fall that the plant had produced tuberous roots had the idea to cook some of these tubers. They proved easy to cook and also of good taste. Mr Mueller subsequently made known this discovery in the Journal of Horticulture Hamburg, recommending that Siberian Chervil be cultivated as a food plant and and that seeds be distributed liberally. Mr Juehlke, having received some seeds of this Umbellifer, has since been engaged with cultivating and testing the plant. It is his intent here to communicate the observations that he has made on this subject along with an analysis of the plant’s root by Prof. Trommer.


The Chaerophyllum Prescottii DC or Siberian chervil does not become generally as high as the ordinary bulbous chervil, but it has all the appearance of that lineage. Its height is above one meter 15 centimeters. The lower stems are covered with stiff downward sloping hairs. The quite glabrous leaves are twice winged, finely divided, and those at the top of the stem divisions are fewer but more elongated and narrow. The flowers are white and their styles are generally less divergent than those of bulbous chervil. The bracts are involucre and a touch longer than those of C. bulosum, while the fruits are somewhat larger than in the latter case. The root of Siberian chervil differs from that of bulbous chervil because it grows longer and its exterior color is golden yellow, though its flesh is also delicate and white. When an external cause forces the root to branch its ramifications are tuberous and fleshy but normally it is spindle-shaped and sinks vertically. In good ground, when it reaches the second year, it is 28 millimeters in diameter or even more.

While the Bulbous Chervil is full sized when the fruit is completely ripe, the Siberian Chervil continues to increase in size for a long time yet to come, if one is careful not to uproot them from the ground early. In the month of August when the fruits have ripened on the stem, cut the plants at ten centimeters height and cover the ground with old half-rotted manure. The plant often forms root-collar buds that can be used to propagate the plant of the first year. We then get tubers that are less bulky it is true, but one can use them for planting in the spring if desired. The most convenient moment for planting, however, is at the end of August. If you want to get plants with the most tubers and have those as large as possible, leave in the earth the smallest tubers, even when they are no bigger than peas, or if these are uprooted then they should be replanted later in the autumn. Especially one must take care to keep from pulling the tubers too early because then it often happens that they will continue to grow further but then die. The best thing is to grub the tubers out of the soil at the end of August after the plants have fully dried, and then store and stratify them.  Harvested and stored chervil tubers should always be kept out of the ground and dry. It tastes better after a little frost, and this frost-treatment may even be needed to apply to the Siberian Chervil.

The latter species being more vigorous than the other and perenniating for more than two years, it should be spaced out in rows wider than for the bulbous chervil. It is sown 1m 30 and lines spaced 30cm in line 15 to 22 cms apart(translation?). After the autumn sowing, M Juehlke recommends covering the rows with a layer of 3 inches of old manure. Growth will also be helped by sprinkling occasionally with a mixture of guano-water

The following analysis was made by Prof. Trommer. d El dena root Siberian Chervil contains 24 to 100 do know sound principles (translation?).

17.3 starch, 3.2 of protein, 0.6 fat and resin, 2.0 pectin and fibrin, 0.9 ash, 24 Total.  A remarkable fact is the complete absence of sugar and gum in this root tuber. The author argues that this root is still very good to eat when the plant has fully matured fruit.

Berliner Allgemeine Gartenzeitung trad de la Soc Imp and a hundred of Hort de Paris


The Vegetable Garden; illustrations, descriptions, and culture of the garden vegetables of cold and temperate climates. By Vilmorin-Andrieux, Robinson, William, F.L.S, Thomson, W. P, 1920, page 243.

Attempts have been made of late years to introduce into kitchen gardens the culture of Prescott Chervil (Cerfeuil de Prescott), a native of Siberia which produces large edible roots like those of the variety just described, and is grown in much the same way.  Its roots are longer and larger than those of the Common  Tuberous-rooted Chervil, but their flavour is coarser and more like that of the parsnip.  The seeds grow easily, but should not be sown before July or the plants will rapidly run to seed.




An article on C. bulbosum that  suggests it was introduced to Bavaria from Siberia and mentions C. prescottii as being in associtation with it, and having longer and larger roots. It also states that it was probably collected by Dr. John D. Prescott, an English botanist who died in St. Petersburgh in 1836.


Jardins de France, 7‎ – 25

Société nationale d’horticulture de France – 1861

Annually in his garden following objects are placed on the desktop By M Ghauvet gardener Chenevières root Chervil Prescott and chervil with a rod of this latter species cut after seed maturity two notes attached to these roots are about the march was followed in growing plants that have provided M Chauvet has 4 successive plantings of Chervil Prescott March 1 April 1 May 1 and June C t is the planting of June that i gave roots the more developed the most Iongués fords and plants in which there were the least likely to mount Nevertheless even among those below a certain number have become forked roots of the feet which had borne fruit remained very soft and brittle L One advantage distiriguent this plant is in that it can be sown at all seasons of the year without having first stratified seed as the bulbous chervil Chauvet M is in the use of the plant in September but that he presents Today products na been planted as 4TM April I with the seed that had been previously layered on the ground that the determination to change this method is that last year the sowing done in September had given him the root of the volume of a nut.




There is a short entry stating that the plant is in cultivation at the University of Helsinki, Finland: taken from Google book snippet view so it might not be accurate, but the chromosome count following  the entry seems right for C. prescottii. 40 years ago.


Annales botanici Fennici, 7-8‎ – 177

Suomen Biologian Seura Vanamo, Suomalainen Eläin- ja Kasvitieteellinen Seura Vanamo – 1970 Chaerophyllum prescottii DC. Prov. Kemin Lappi. Sodankyla: Sattanen, 1967 T.

Ahti 23019 (in cultivation in the Botanical Garden, University of Helsinki). 2n-22 (same as C. bulbosum)

Hamet-Ahti L (1967) Chaerophyllum bulbosum L. ssp. bulbosum and ssp. prescottii (DC.) Nyman in Finland. Ann Bot Fenn 4, 417-21. Contact: Dep. Bot., Univ. Helsinki, Finland


This Swedish paper compares the root sizes of wild forms of C. prescottii and C. bulbosum and examines its conservation status in Sweden.

Chaerophyllum prescottii, Rysskorvel, by A AKUT Apiaceae Critically endangered (CR) B1ab (iii, iv, v) +2 ab (iii, iv, v); C2a (i)

Swedish to English translation

Description. Rysskorvel is a two year, 30-70 cm tall, flockblomstrig plant with white flowers. It has a tuber which is about 5 cm wide (2 cm for rooted chervil). Stalks styvharig and often macular reddening. The species lacks allmant sweep, but have individual husk composed of

6-10 likstora blades (the related rotkorveln C. bulbosum have about 5 different sized leaves). Fruits years 5-9 mm long (4-6 mm for rooted chervil) and the narrow five-cook ribs and with up to weak utatbojda ground.

Range and status. Rysskorvel occur within a limited area in eastern Norrbotten, in ÖVERTORNEÅ and Pajala parishes, where it is known from about 15 rooms. The ar seen in three of these facilities in recent years, in all cases only single items. The species is In addition, found that adventiv on Gotland (Slite 1920 and Endre 1902), in Ostergotland (Dagsberg, 1970? And Roglosa 2003), Sörmland (Nacka 1916-1933), Harjedalen (Lillhärdal 1913-1915), and Jamtland (Bispgården 1911). In northern Finland are rysskorveln scattered, isolated forekomster is also down to the Gulf of Finland. In Norway, the Laws from a few adventiva bargains. The species absent in the other Nordic countries. Its main distribution is in Russia to Western Siberia (Yenisei and Altai), the lack of contrast, in Belarus and Baltics.

Ecology. Rysskorveln occurs primarily as akerogras in Sweden, mainly in potato and kornakrar, usually on sandy soils. It also occurs in dikes and roadsides. In northern Sweden and Finland are likely rysskorvel come in with the seed. In the central parts of utbredningsomradet (southern Russia) is the main one stappvaxt, often with a langvarig rest of the life cycle.

Hot. Main threat to rysskorvel ar-growing in the few remaining locations with back waxing as a result. Species probably requires a large accession to the creation and can survive on the premises of ruderatkaraktar. Otherwise, the threats to the species very poorly understood.

Measures. Rysskorveln should rather aterinventeras and current status of live sets. Premises should be monitored by floravaktare. Premises should be managed in a favorable way for the species, AR room at Pello should be borne by dogwood species Anthriscus sylvestris and algorta Filipendula ulmaria, they take over.

Miscellaneous. Rysskorvel considered under certain Flora subspecies to be rooted chervil, and called da in Latin Chaerophyllum bulbosum ssp prescottii.

Foreign names – NO: Knollkjeks, DK: Finnish Hulsvob, FI: Idankirveli.


Hamet-Ahti, L. 1967th Chaerophyllum bulbosum L. ssp bulbosum and ssp prescottii (DC.) Nyman in Finland.

Annales botanici Fennici 4: 417-421.

Morner, C. T. 1921st Nagra easterly plants a Swedish soil I. Chaerophyllum bulbosum L. var. prescotti (DC.) Fr.

Acta Florae Sueciae I: 163-176.

Petersson, J. 1999th Endangered plants on the island of Gotland. Part 2: vulnerable species. Rindi 19: 59-118.

Suominen, J. 1979th The grain immigrant flora of Finland. Acta Botanica Fennica 111th……

Morner, C. T. 1921st Nagra easterly plants a Swedish soil I. Chaerophyllum bulbosum L. var. prescotti (DC.) Fr.

Acta Florae Sueciae I: 163-176.

Petersson, J. 1999th Endangered plants on the island of Gotland. Part 2: vulnerable species. Rindi 19: 59-118.

Suominen, J. 1979th The grain immigrant flora of Finland. Acta Botanica Fennica 111th

ArtDatabanken 2007-01-03. Fact Sheet: Chaerophyllum prescottii – rysskorvel. Forf. Mora Aronsson 1996th

(C) ArtDatabanken, SLU 2007th


A Comprehensive Key and Description of the Two Chaerophyllum Species in Scandinavia (five other keyed species omitted):

Hämet-Ahti, L. 1967: Chaerophyllum bulbosum L. ssp. bulbosum and ssp. prescottii (DC. ) Nyman in Finland. — Ann. Bot. Fennici 4(4): 417–42

Chaerophyllum L.

Linnaeus, Sp. pl.: 258 (1753).

Annual, biennial or perennial, glabrous or often hairy herbs. Stem usually with bristles at the base, emanating from red-violet patches, hollow or solid, usually swollen below the nodes. Leaves pinnate, usually with bristles or hairs. Bracts few or absent. Umbellules usually with a terminal, short-stalked, female flower. Bractlets several, usually ciliate. Flowers actinomorphic to slightly zygomorphic, without sepals, with white petals. Fruit laterally slightly flattened, elongated in outline; mericarps with low and broad ridges, with a distinct to indistinct ventral groove, and with a waist below the stylopodium, inserted at the top of a flattened, divided or almost entire carpophore; vittae light to dark brown, in regions which are equally broad with the ridges.


  1. Chaerophyllum bulbosum L.

Linnaeus, Sp. pl.: 258 (1753). – Type: xx.

D Kørvelroe. F mukulakirveli. N knollkjeks. S rotkörvel.

Literature. Hämet-Ahti 1967.

Hemicryptophyte. Biennial or more long-lived hapaxanth, up to 145(–290) cm; tuber globose or elongated, 1–3 x 0.9–2.3 cm. Stem hollow except at the nodes, slightly to distinctly swollen below the nodes; basal part 3–9 mm thick, terete or angled, rarely sulcate, with red-violet patches or entirely red-violet, rarely greenish, indistinctly to distinctly glaucous, sparsely or densely covered with 0.5–2 mm long, deflexed bristles; upper internodes usually angled, glabrous. Leaves 9–13 on the stem (basal leaves withering before anthesis), one of the 4 lowest is the largest; sheath narrow, glabrous, usually not red-violet, with indistinctly membranous margins; petiole 4–16(–20) cm; blade twice to four (usually three) times pinnate, 6–14(–18) x 4–12(–16) cm, 1–1.4(–1.7) times as long as wide. Primary leaflets 4–6 (usually 5) pairs; angle leaflet/rachis 35–65°; petiolules of the largest pair 7–21 mm long. Ultimate leaflets with a 3–7(–10) mm long petiolule; blade with bristles (upper leaves glabrous), twice (rarely three times) pinnatifid, 13–23(–42) x 9–19(–30) mm, 1.1–1.8 times as long as wide, with 5–9 pairs of lobes, their tips acute to acuminate, usually slightly red-violet; base broadly cuneate to cordate. Ultimate lobes 1.8–3.9(–5) x 0.7–1.8(–2.4) mm, 1.6–3 times as long as wide, on upper leaves more elongated, (7–)10–23 x 0.4–1 mm, 12–37 times as long as wide.

Umbels slightly convex with straight or slightly inwards-curved rays, 2–3(–4) cm high and 4.5–9 cm wide; peduncle 3–7 cm. Bracts absent or 1–2. Umbellules 11–20(–23); rays with a maximum length of 2–4.5(–7.5) cm, glabrous. Bractlets in outer umbellules 3–4(–6), not or almost not confluent at the base, usually persistent; margin distinctly membranous and with or without cilia; maximum size 2.5–7(–8) x 0.5–1.2 mm. Flowers in outer umbellules 13–22; pedicels with a maximum length of 0.3–0.9(–1.1) cm, glabrous; petals 0.9–1.8(–2.3) x 0.8–2.4 mm, with a 0.3–0.9 mm deep apical cut; anthers 0.3–0.4(–0.5) mm; filaments 0.8–1.7 mm. Fruit narrowly ovate to lanceolate in outline; mericarps 4.1–6.2 x 0.8–1.5 mm, 0.8–1.3 mm thick, (2.7–)3.7–6.6(–7.4) times as long as wide; stylopodia low-arched, 0.4–0.7 mm wide; styles 0.4–0.9 mm long, 0.1 mm thick, directed diagonally outwards to slightly downwards. – Mid-summer.

Distribution. Earlier grown as a root vegetable; also e.g. a remnant of gardens, introduced at mills and perhaps as a weed in hayfields. S Sk Lomma 1937–56 (Alnarp, relic in park), Bl Augerum since 1946 (Kummeln, naturalized garden relic), Gtl Endre 1894–1934, 1991 (Hulte), Srm Julita 1944 (garden escape) 1985, 1995, Upl Stockholm 1884–1934, 1971–96 (Frescati, established from botanical garden); elsewhere casual: Sk Billinge 1890–1898 (garden escape), Landskrona 1963–75 and Säby 1984 (roadside), Bl Karlskrona 1891, Klm Oskarshamn 1902 [cult?***], Ög Källstad 1887 (fields) and Östra Eneby 1881, Nrk Längbro 1901–28 (mill), Srm Floda 1982–83 (garden relic), Stora Malm 1984 (earth pile), Västra Vingåker 1883, Upl Stockholm 1892 (Ladugårdsgärdet, dump), 2000 (Norra Djurgården, hayfield), Uppsala 1816, 1932 (escaped from botanical garden). N Te Skien 1924, 1935, 1961–98 (Bøle, silo) , ST Skaun 1912–56 (Buvik, mill); casual in Ho Osterøy 1915 (Bruvik, railway), Tr Sørreisa 1946 [no specimen seen***]. F U Helsinki established 1912–94 (Lapinlahti, park) and perhaps 1967–91 (Inkoo, filling area?***); casual in V Turku 1956–58 (filling earth), Kaarina 1994, U Helsinki several localities 1892 to recent (i.a. escaped from botanical garden), EK Virolahti 1962 [cult?***], St Vammala 1974 (garden relic), PK Nurmes 1899 [cult?***], Kn Kajaani 1955 (escaped at farm). – A record from S Nb Haparanda 1928 may be due to confusion of labels. – Map xxx. D, Fa, I, AI 0.

C and SE Europe.

Habitat. On dry to mesic, mull-rich soil, in sun-exposed to slightly shaded habitats. Formerly cultivated in gardens, perhaps for the edible root, and escaped to, e.g., roadsides or remaining as a relic; also introduced with cereals [from Russia or east Europe?***] to mills etc. Often occurring with many individuals.

Biology. Primary umbels usually have female flowers only in all umbellules, sometimes intermingled with small sterile flowers; secondary umbels have large female flowers and small male or sterile flowers; tertiary umbels have male flowers, sometimes intermingled with large bisexual flowers.

Similar taxa. Chaerophyllum bulbosum is very similar to C. prescottii (3). It is sometimes confused with Bunium bulbocastanum or Conopodium majus, which are also tuberous, but they both have narrowly lobed lower leaves and a glabrous stem which is thin and flexuous at the base. B. bulbocastanum also differs in having 5–10 bracts and a fruit which is ovate to elliptic in outline; C. majus has 1–3 linear-lanceolate, free bractlets and a brown-black fruit which is ovate to oblong in outline.

  1. Chaerophyllum prescottii DC.

De Candolle, Prod. 4: 225 (1830). – C. bulbosum subsp. prescottii (DC.) Nyman (1879). – Described from xx.

F idänkirveli. S rysskörvel.

Literature. Hämet-Ahti 1967.

Hemicryptophyte. Biennial or more long-lived hapaxanth, up to 110 cm; tuber globose or elongated, 1.5–4(–5) x 1–2.5 cm. Stem hollow except at nodes or sometimes solid, not to slightly swollen below the nodes; basal part 2.5–5.5(–7) mm thick, terete or angled, rarely sulcate, with red-violet patches or sometimes entirely red-violet, indistinctly to distinctly glaucous, densely or sparsely covered with 0.5–1.8 mm long, deflexed bristles (rarely glabrous); upper internodes usually angled, glabrous or with sparse bristles. Leaves 3–7(–9) on the stem (basal leaves withering before anthesis), the lowest one is usually the largest; sheath narrow, glabrous, sometimes red-violet, with indistinctly membranous margins; petiole 4–15 cm; blade twice (rarely three times) pinnate, 5.5–16 x 4.5–12(–17) cm, 0.9–1.8(–2.0) times as long as wide. Primary leaflets 3–5 (usually 4) pairs; angle leaflet/rachis 40–60°; petiolules of the largest pair 3–23 mm. Ultimate leaflets with a 3–11(–20) mm long petiolule; blade without or with sparse bristles, twice (rarely three times) pinnatifid, 10–33(–50) x 8–28(–36) mm, 0.9–2.1 times as long as wide, with 3–8 pairs of lobes, their tips acute to acuminate, hyaline or slightly red-violet; base broadly cuneate to truncate. Ultimate lobes 2–5.5(–7) x 0.8–2.2(–2.8) mm, 1.7–4.1 times as long as wide; on upper leaves more elongated, (5–)10–34 x 0.6–1.5(–3.1) mm, 5.3–34 times as long as wide.

Umbels slightly convex with slightly inwards-curved rays, 4–5(–6) cm high and 8–14 cm wide; peduncle 8–16(–22) cm. Bracts absent or 1–2(–5). Umbellules 9–18(–22); rays with a maximum length of 4.9–8.6 cm, glabrous. Bractlets in outer umbellules 6–10(–11), usually persistent, distinctly membranous and without cilia at the margin; maximum size 3–7 x 1.0–2.5 mm, 0–20% of the length confluent at the base. Flowers in outer umbellules 16–33; pedicels with a maximum length of 0.7–1.2 cm, glabrous; petals 1.2–2.1(–2.9) x 1–2.3 mm, with a 0.4–1 mm deep apical cut; anthers 0.4–0.6 mm; filaments 1–2 mm. Fruit lanceolate in outline; mericarps (4.5–)5.3–8 x 0.7–1.3 mm, 0.7–1 mm thick, (4.1–)4.6–8(–9.6) times as long as wide; stylopodia rather high-arched, 0.5–0.7 mm wide; styles 0.9–1.5 mm long, 0.15–0.3 mm thick, directed upwards to slightly outwards. – Mid-summer.

Distribution. Introduced and established as weed in hayfields in northern F and norteasternmost S; elsewhere mostly casual, e.g. at mills. F scattered to rather common in northern parts from EnL Peltovuoma, Enontekiö (2 localities) and InL Inari (3 localities) to northeastern PeP and Kn Kajaani 1916, Suomussalmi 1906–90 (Kiannaniemi, Tormua); further south casual: PS Kuopio 1934 (mill), Maaninka 1908 (oatfield), Riistavesi 1958, EP Vaasa 1927, 1948, 1962 (Vasklot, mill and harbour), ES Virtasalmi 1918 (farm) , EH Janakkala 1959–66 (railway station), Tampere 1970 (railway), EK Kymi 1929 (farm, introduced with chicken food), U Helsinki 1923 (harbour), Järvenpää 1934 (mill), V Maaria 1942 (mill), Raisio 1951 (mill). S Nb Pajala, Övertorneå (meadows, hay fields, field margins); casual in  TL Kiruna 1909, Jmt Fors 1911 (hay field), Hrj Lillhärdal 1913 (grass field), Upl Djurö 1916 (mill dump), Srm Nacka 1916, 1933 (mill), Ög Dagsberg 1969 (mill), Gtl Slite 1920 (probably mill). N ST Skaun 1918–45 (Buvik, mill); elsewhere casual: Ak Oslo 1906, 1915, Te Skien 1905–12, 1924 (Bøle, silo), Ho Modalen 1914 (Helland, introduced with soil from Vaksdal) ST Skaun Trondheim 1900. D FyL Odense 1897. – Map xxx. Fa, I, AI 0.

E Europe, W and C Asia.

Habitat. Mostly on dry mineral soil in sun-exposed habitats. In northern F and S in seminatural habitats, such as field margins, hay fields and river slopes; probably an immigrant from Russia in the 19th century (Hämet-Ahti 1967). In southern parts of Norden mainly introduced with cereal and escaped at mills, harbours and railways in the 20th century.

Biology. Umbellules of primary umbels with female flowers, sometimes with intermingled small male or sterile flowers; umbellules of secondary and tertiary umbels usually with male flowers.

Taxonomy. Chaerophyllum prescottii has earlier been treated as a subspecies of C. bulbosum (see Hämet-Ahti 1967). Although the variation of C. prescottii is considerable, there are no intermediates neither in number and width of the bractlets nor in direction and width of the styles, and the taxa thus merit specific status.

Similar taxa. Chaerophyllum prescottii and C. bulbosum (2) are very similar. Width of bractlets and width and direction of styles must be judged at fruiting stage, and many specimens collected at flowering stage are therefore difficult to identify. However, the bractlets of C. prescottii are more numerous (6–11) and rather broad, covering the top of the ray as a collar (also distinguishable at anthesis), and the anthers are slightly larger. See further taxa under C. bulbosum.



The Russian seed-site, Agbina.com (with translator) has a good online picture of the flowering plant and one of the best descriptions available.  It lists it as a biennial.  Seed for the plant does not seem to be listed on their pdf of stock supply. Perhaps it can be ordered special, but ordering information only speaks of within Russia itself.  Email contact is available.

Russian Name:  Boutin (Chaerophyllum),

Kervelskaya turnip (Butene tuberous or tuberous chervil for C. bulbosum) Boutin Prescott (Chaerophyllum prescottii), Бутень Прескотта


Двулетник с клубневидно утолщенным корнем, по вкусу напоминающий морковь. Biennial with tuberiform thickened root, to taste reminiscent of carrot. Стебель 50-180 см высотой, бороздчатый с красными крапинками, опушенный.  Нижние листья 3-перистые, в очертании треугольные, на длинных, покрытых мягкими или щетинистыми волосками, черешках. Stem 50-180 cm tall, grooved with red flecks, pubescent. Lower leaves 3-pinnate, triangular in outline, with long, covered with soft or bristly hairs, the petioles. Пластинка их 10-25 см длиной и такой же ширины, 3-перистая, первичные, вторичные и отчасти третичные доли на черешочках. The record of 10-25 cm in length and the same width, 3-pinnate, primary, secondary and tertiary partly share petioles. Третичные листочки глубоко перисто-рассеченные на ланцетовидные дольки. Tertiary leaflets deeply pinnatisect, with lanceolate lobes. Верхние листья более мелкие и менее сложно рассеченные  с линейными или почти нитевидными дольками, сидящими на расширенных влагалищах. The upper leaves are smaller and less complicated dissected with linear or almost filiform lobes, sitting on the extended sheaths. Зонтики с 12-20 голыми лучами. Umbrellas with bare 12-20 rays. Лепестки белые, все одинаковые. Petals are white, all the same. Цветение в июне-июле. Flowering in June-July.



Boutin Prescott – Chaerophyllum prescottii DC.

Family Apiaceae – Apiaceae

Biennial, 40-150 cm stem height Flowers in June – July.

Grows in sparse forests and forest edges, in the bushes, on the flood and dry meadows; and occurs as a weed. In Western Siberia, the northern boundary of species range to 58-59 ° with. N., in the Krasnoyarsk region is marked only in southern areas, the east does not grow.

In writing fresh peeled young stems are used. Along with the leaves they are used to prepare soup. However, there is information about poisonous plants (especially leaves and stems), but the toxicity is lost when cooking. These data require verification. The roots contain about 17% starch.



Wild Edible Plants of Tartarstan

Botanical Description of C. prescottii or Boutin Prescott, with four other foreign names, two include the word Prescott.

Biennial perennial herb. 50 to 150 cm tall. Involucre, 5-10 leaflets. Flowers June-July. (C. prescottii)

The C. prescottii food use is reproduced here.

Used in food and thickening of tuberous herb butene. The inner part of the root is white and fragrant and tasting of chestnuts. Used boild and fried. Children have long eaten the young stems, cleaning with young skins. From greens make soups. Boutin is a favorite dish in Moldovia and Romania where it mostly grows.

The chemical composition of the plant has not been studied but it is known that all plants contain herofilin.

Boutin is found amoung the bushes in floodplains, as a weed-in fields, along railroad embankments throughout Tartarstan, but more often in Zakamye.

You can use another kind of butene tuber in the same way, which is different in that it stems from blemishes, above glabrous, bracteoles of 3-5 leaflets, mostly unilateral. (This last butene is probably C. bulbosum.)



Plants For a Future website states that ” The sub-species C. bulbosum prescottii, (synonym C. prescottii) is used in Russia [74]…. this reference is to:

[74] Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation 1968 An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.



A key in Flora of China. 14: 25, 2005 lists Chaerophyllum bulbosum as perennial. Chaerophyllum bulbosum (de Candolle), Prodr. 4: 225. 1830.

Anthriscus prescottii (de Candolle) Veesenmeyer; Chaerophyllym bulbosum Linnaeus subsp. prescottii (de Candolle) Nyman.

Plants perennial, 40-100 cum highy. Roots tuberous, usually solitary, sometimes 2 or more, oblong, 1-3 x 0.5-1 cm….Forests, scrub, mountain slopes, valleys, meadows; ca. 2000 m. W. Xinjiang (Altay), Russia (Siberia): C Asai, SW Asia (Caucasus).

The same text says there are about 40 C. species in Europe, NA, with 2 species being in China. C. villosum and C. prescottii being those two.  C. villosum is annual with fusiform root.

The small root description here brings to mind the supposed earliest descriptions of C. bulbosum from Europe in the 1700s or earlier, when it was said to be the size of a hazel nut.  That report said also that by the 1800s the size was reported  as similar to that of a half-long carrot, presumably from selection through many generations of cultivation since their introduction.



Boutin (Chaerophyllum), a genus of plants of the family umbellifera. Biennial or perennial herbs with a multiple-peristorassechennymi leaves and white (rarely purple, pink or other colors) with small flowers collected in the complex umbrellas. About 40 species in Europe, Asia and America (several species). In the USSR more than 20 species, mainly in the Caucasus. B. tuber (Ch. bulbosum) distributed in the European part, is edible klubneobraznye, thickened roots. In Western Europe, this species was put into culture. Edible roots and some other species of B. intoxicating (Ch. temulum, or Ch. Temulentum), growing in the European part of USSR and the Caucasus, is considered a poisonous plant.

  1. Prescott (Ch. prescottii), or B. steppe, which occurs in European Russia, Siberia and Central Asia, and B. tuber – perennial weed, infests cereals. Control measures: deep plowing, pruning cultivator carrot roots to education-eminent roots, seed cleaning, spraying crops with herbicides.

Lit.: Cereals AA, vegetable wealth of the Caucasus, 2 ed., Moscow, 1952; Ipat’ev AN, VEGETABLES globe, Minsk, 1966.



Boutin Prescott —

Chaerophyllum prcscottii DC.

Plant Description:

Biennial or perennial plant. 50-200cm. Plant with nodular or thickened spindle-shaped tubers. Stem single, rounded, with purple spots, covered (especially the bottom) deflected down white bristly hairs, ramified at the top. Leaves in outline, triangular, three-four peristorassechennye; end segments (segments) of the sheet from lanceolate to lineynonitevidnyh. Umbrellas multibeam, with bare beams. Involucel of 5 – 10 ovate or lanceolate leaves with a long naked cusp. Petals are white. Podstolbie conical. Bars sticking or divergent, longer than podstolby. Flowering summer. On the flood plains, in the meadow steppes, forest edges, bushes, empty lots, roadsides and as a weed in crops. European part, Siberia, Kazakhstan. Toxic.


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