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or Apiaceze Umbelifers

species, family, parsnip and cultivated

UMBELIFERS, or APIACEZE, a family of herbs and a few shrubs popularly known as the parsley family. The species, of which about 1,500 have been described and grouped in ap proximately 200 genera, are most abundant in the north temperate and Arctic zones. Many species are also characteristic of high altitudes in more equatorial latitudes. The most notable feature of the family is the arrangement of the flowers in umbels, which characterize nearly all the species. The umbels are often compounded, that is, they are composed of smaller umbels called umbellets. The leaves are sometimes simple but generally compound, and usually con tain resinous substances (volatile oils) which are characteristic of the individual species and either give or assist in giving the plants their acrid or pleasant flavors. In some species these flavors are very disagreeable, as, for instance, in asafcetida; in others pleasantly odorous, as in fennel and anise. These last two species and several others, such as parsley, caraway, corian der and celery (qq.v.) are popularly used for flavoring culinary preparations, such as salads, soups, sauces and dressings. The stems of celery have been greatly enlarged by cultivation, and are among the most esteemed salads, both in America and Europe. Several umbellifers have become important root crops in temperate climates. Of these the parsnip and the carrot are the best known in America, but several others are cultivated in Europe, Asia and south ern Africa. Some of these, such as skirret

(Slum sisarum), and chervil (Cherrophylluns bulbosum), are occasionally cultivated in Amer ican gardens. Many of the species, including those now cultivated as esculents, were formerly considered to have medicinal properties, but ex cept in a few cases, such as fennel and anise, they have been discarded and in these cases they are now used merely to disguise the unpleasant flavors of other drugs. Formerly, also, many were reputed harmful and even poisonous when eaten by man and animals. Among these was the parsnip. The ill repute has been completely dispelled in most cases, but still clings to celery and parsnip; the former being reputed poison ous to certain individuals; the latter at certain seasons. Some of the uncultivated species are still under ban in some sections of the country hut not in others. Besides the genera men tioned, the following are among the most im portant: Crithmum, Archangelica, Conopodium, Smyrnium, Levisticum, Eryngium and Prangos. Botanically the family has been found difficult to arrange satisfactorily. Coulter and Rose have described the American species; De Candolle, Koch, Sprengel, Engler and other Europeans have also devoted much attention to this large group.