Members of the Carrot Family are widely distrbuted in the Northern Hemisphere, and many have savory-aromatic herbage. The flowers tend to be small and numerous and are arranged in umbels. The ovary is inferior, and the stigma is two lobed. The leaves are generally dissected, and the bases of their petioles usually form sheaths around the stem. Included in the 2,000 members of the family are dill, celery, carrot, parsley, caraway, coriander, fennel, anise, and parsnip. Anise is one of the earliest aromatics mentioned in
478 Chapter 24
478 Chapter 24
literature. It is used for flavoring cakes, curries, pastries, and candy. Pocket gophers apparently are attracted by its aroma, and some poison baits are enhanced with anise. A liqueur known as anisette is flavored with it.
Caraway seeds are used to flavor a Danish liqueur, called kummel. The seeds are well known for their use in rye and pumpernickel breads.
Some members of the Carrot Family are poisonous. Water hemlock (Fig. 24.22) and poison hemlock are common weeds in ditches and along streams. All parts of the plants are deadly, often having been fatal to unwary wild-food lovers. Socrates is believed to have died as a result of ingesting poison hemlock, which should not be confused with cone-bearing hemlock trees.
Several members of the Carrot Family, such as cow parsnip, squawroot, and hog fennel, have edible roots and were used for food by Native Americans. The reader is advised, however, to be absolutely certain of the identity of such plants before experimenting with them.
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