Is this parsley or just a weed?

Alhambra, CA

I found this robust guy growing in my garden today...I thought it looked kind of like parsley but it doesn't have a strong odor. Thoughts?

Thumbnail by socalmeli
Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)

Looks like Cilantro.

Alhambra, CA

I thought it did a bit too, but it doesn't really smell like cilantro.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

It doesn't look like cilantro to me... more like Italian parsley (both of which I have growing now). It does look like a plant in the Apiaceae family.... so be very cautious. Some of these plants are very tasty edibles and other are extremely toxic. Do you remember planting parsley previously in the area in which this plant is growing? If so, does it smell/taste like parsley? If not, I'd recommend not eating it, just to be cautious. Parsley seeds are readily available and easy to grow in cool, early spring conditions.

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)

Try tasting a bit of it to see.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Do not try tasting unknown plants in this family. Some are deadly.

Looks like the flat leafed Italian Parsley, or perhaps Celery or Celeriac. If you know you did not plant any of these, then I would remove the plant, and dig it up thoroughly to be sure of getting the root.

Baltimore, MD

Looks like chinese celery.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have a problem here. When I click for a closeup, it brings up a different picture from a different post. Is your pic the small one that looks like an oak seedling or the closeup that looks like cilantro?

Nevermind - the problem was at my end.

If it was in the garden, do you mean veggie garden? What did you plant that looks like that? Edibles are parsley, carrots (both biennials which winter over, cilantro (fast growing annual that seeds back - that is what it looks like), celery, celery root, parcel, dill and fennel (which don't look like your picture).

Flowers are Queen Anne's Lace and some others.

Poison (the reason you shouldn't taste it if in doubt) are Hemlock and Water Hemlock - usually found in drainage areas - are you near one?

It does look like Cilantro.

This message was edited Mar 30, 2013 2:09 PM

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

A single leaflet is enough to judge the taste. Even if it is hemlock (spotted, hollow stem) that is not enough to harm you even if you don't spit it out after tasting.

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Ditto to Greenthumb - a taste test of a small leaflet isn't going to be harmful. And if it is one of the toxic species, it'll taste foul so you'll spit it out right away.


Hamilton, New Zealand

I would be very weary also. It looks very similar to my parcel plant which is a cross between celery and parsley but has a very distinct aroma of celery and parsley... Take care with this plant...if you did not plant it then I also suggest you dig it out and throw it away..

Baltimore, MD

All you have to do is do a smell test. Just take a stem and squish it. If it doesn't smell like celery then you can subtract it from your list.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I would recommend crush and smell over taste test.
Hemlock has the reputation of being the most poisonous plant in the U.S.A - even in small amounts.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

WHat are the odds that cultivated sp such as parsley would just show up in a garden? Seems very rare to me.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Thought I would provide some information on the amount of Poison Hemlock to produce death in animals. I don't have figures for humans for fresh plant material since figures for humans are generally given in terms of the active alkaloids as pure chemicals.

The lethal dose for a horse is 3-5 kg (about 6-11 pounds) fresh plants;
for pigs, it is 8-13 grams per kilo bodyweight (11/2 to 31/2 pounds for a 220 lb. pig);
for cows, 5.3 gram of fresh plants per kilo bodyweight(About 3lbs for a small cow);
for sheep, 10 gram fresh plants per kilo bodyweight (About 1 pound for a 110 lb. sheep)

Assuming human tolerances to be similar, half a pound of fresh plant or more will produce death in humans. The purpose of this information is not to encourage consumption of this plant, but rather to give some perspective to the hazard of tasting and spitting out a small piece of leaf.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have never known anyone killed by Hemlock.
There are anecdotal stories of Hemlock being poison in small amounts - used as parsley in a sandwich, hollow stem used for "pea-shooter" or whistle.
I knew someone who died from eating rhubarb leaves, so I am cautious.
I don't think the pic looks like Hemlock, so I wouldn't be concerned UNLESS there was hemlock growing nearby.

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Quote from pollengarden :

I have never known anyone killed by Hemlock.

And I only know of one case, and that was Socrates, 2400 years ago.


Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

And since Socrates drank his poison, who knows how much he used to brew it! But it was obviously a known poison even then.

The reference to "pea-shooters" and whistles came from "Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope" by William Weber.

The reference to the mistaken for Parsley (or cress?) Sandwich came from "Wicked Plants" by Amy Stewart .

Bear Grylls did a survival show that aired here for a while. There was an episode set in Idaho? Montana? where he pointed out Hemlock (or a look-alike) and remarked that his Survival INSTRUCTOR had died from eating it.

Victoria, BC(Zone 8b)

Actually - some of the illnesses are attributed to people who hear the rumor that you can smoke it to get a cheap high. Annd there are many plants and seeds that are FAR more toxic than poison hemlock - let alone houseplants/tropicals (like gloriosa lily)

Here is a good link on toxic plants -

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Good list.
Amazing how many commonly grown plants, - including food plants! - are poisonous.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

According to that list I've got lots of poisonous plants in my flower beds. Hope my dog doesn't decide to eat any of them. She does eat apple cores when Ifinish up with them. I assume she is eating the seeds too. Guess thats out the window now.

Thanks for all the info.


Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

You have to be a little careful with dogs - especially young ones that chew indiscriminately. Did you notice that it lists alliums (onions, garlic) as bad for dogs, too? Add Tylenol, chocolate, raisins, and salt. Sometimes dogs get away with eating things that should have killed them. As a kid I had a puppy that survived Decon (warfarin) poisoning, and grew up to eat & survive glass marbles - some of which we think she chewed first.
Most wild animals can "smell" the poison component, and won't even taste the plant. I have trouble with deer chewing my apple & pear trees, but they won't touch the peach leaves. But I have known bears to eat things they shouldn't and then vomit them back up (raw beans, concentrated tea syrup with too much tannin)
Insects are another matter - If there is an insect that is named after the plant (eg Potato beetle, Cucumber beetle) because that is its host and one of very few pests that eat that plant - It usually means that the plant is at least mildly poisonous and that insect is immune to it.

If the plant in the original photo was Cilantro, it probably blooming by now. Cilantro is a fast-growing short-lived thing.

St. Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Pollengarden- When you say that cilantro "seeds back," does that mean that I won't have to replant it next year? I am starting some cilantro from seeds in a planter on my deck. (I love fresh guacamole and thought this would be a nice thing to have on hand for summer.) I'm not sure if it matters if it is in a container versus the ground. I have never grown herbs or veggies of any kind, just flowering plants and my citrus trees. Thanks!

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Dill definitely seeds back in my yard. Cilantro may seed back, but hasn't so far for me. Both are short lived and need to be succession sown (sown every few weeks in small batches) to have fresh herbs at the right stage all season long. The leaves and Seed heads of both are used as seasoning - I prefer the leaves in season, I figure that is the point of growing it.

St. Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Thank you for the succession tip. I will make sure to plant in spurts. :)

In my garden I found a plant that looked quite like parsley, it had a red stalk, a leaf pretty much like the normal parsley and it smelled quite like parsley but more strong and unsatisfying. It would be great if one of you could help me.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

You should start a new thread, indicate where in the world you are located, and show some photos of it if you can.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Gardener1011, welcome on your first day. It takes a while to learn the ins and outs of this site, so here are a few tips.

1. It is best to start your own thread for identification rather than hitching on the end of a pre-existing thread. Go to the bottom of the main page of this forum and find "Starting a new topic:" Fill in "Subject" and "Your message". You may upload as many as five photos with your post.

2. Photos of the plant in question are crucial, and should include when possible the entire plant, close-ups of the leaves and flowers, as well as perhaps other views depending on the plant. Others may request specific shots to aid in their work.

3. Including your location and zone along with your username at the left of the post is most helpful. At least tell where the plant was observed, people post plants from all over the world.

Thank you for the help!

Here are some photos of this 'parsley look alike'. I hope you guys could identify it for me. Sorry if the images are a bit blurred. It was the best I could do.

Thumbnail by gardener1011 Thumbnail by gardener1011 Thumbnail by gardener1011

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