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Pignut is one of the least spectacular members of the Umbellifers.  The large family of Umbellifers includes the very familiar Cow Parsley and Hogweed amongst many others. Carrots are Umbellifers, if you allow a carrot to remain in the soil then in its second year it will produce a tall flower which is quite similar to Cow parsley.

It is very common and will not only grow in woodlands but also hedgerows and meadows. It has declined a little in recent years but is still quite common, with perhaps the exception of East Anglia where it is a bit thinner on the ground.

OK here is Pignut, as you can see it looks like Cow Parsley only much smaller, it rarely grows above 30cm, also it has quite small and feathery leaves, not the parsley like leaves of Cow parsley, after which it is obviously named. It flowers in late May and June but the leaves appear quite early on and you can see them in amongst the larger leaves of Wood Anemones and Bluebells in March and April.

Pignut does have nuts, well strictly it has a tuber in the ground, which is how it survives from one year to the next. It is though, round and looks like a nut. It is also edible both to pigs and humans and of course in this area of the Forest of Dean it will be dug up by wild boar. In fact in the area where I photographed these flowers there was quite a lot of evidence of recent activity by the boar.

Umbellifers have lots of small flowers arranged in an umbrella like platform. This makes quite a visible display and allows lots of different insects and indeed other inverts like slugs or spiders to effect pollination. Anything crawling across the surface will work. In some Umbellifers the outer flowers have somewhat larger petals than the individual flowers found in the centre of the umbel, this is the beginning of the evolution towards the daisy type of flower in which you have two distinct types of flowers, the ray florets and the disc florets. However this is not apparent in the pignut, suggesting that is slightly more primitive than some other species in the group.

Here is a close up of the umbel and you can see all the individual flowers look the same. Compare this to the photo of Cow Parsley at the bottom of his post.

Check out other wildflowers found in the woods of the Wye valley and Ninewells wood click Woodland Wildflowers of the Wye valley and Monmouthshire.

Cow Parsley