Is It Torilis arvensis or Torilis japonica?

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) among the Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) on 7-8-21, #809-48.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I have been fooled many times over the years when it comes to wildflowers. I have learned a lot as a gardener, expecting one thing and getting another. Plants are not that complicated, or so we might think. Plants in our garden, flower beds, and pots depend on us for their growth and survival. If we take care of them and give them what they need, we are rewarded with flowers and a harvest of fruit and vegetables. But sometimes our perennials may not return the next spring, and our self-seeding annuals may come up God knows where. We do, however, have a lot to say about what grows where in our yard and we can thin or move things around a bit. Plus, there are always new plants to bring home. 🙂 In the wild… Well, that is a different story.

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) on 7-11-21.

Since 2013 when I returned to the family farm and have been getting more into wildflowers, I have noticed a lot of changes. Many wildflower species come up hit and miss from one end of the farm to the other and don’t necessarily grow in colonies. That being Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) for one. The large colonies of seven species of Persicaria have also changed which I thought were unstoppable… All but one species no longer have large colonies and have been consumed by others. The Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed), on the other hand, seems to definitely be unstoppable for the moment where it colonized in 2019. Of course, all the Persicaria species identified here are still present, just not in huge numbers. Switching from grazing the pastures to growing hay has made a big difference. Nature is definitely dog-eat-dog and depends on the survival of the fittest.

I started this post a few days ago but always had something better to do. Honestly, anything is better than writing about Hedge Parsley. I thought about taking more photos for this post, like all the places it is growing, but it started raining. I also need to work in the garden, but it started raining. What else? Well, since it started raining my list became very short and the Hedge Parsley draft is staring right at me. GEEZ!!! So, I guess I just as well dive in and get it out of the way and off my mind.

Torilis arvensis/Torilis japonica ? on 9-20-20.

Well, you know I mentioned in the last post I had added several observations of Torolis arvensis to iNaturalist. Then one member had to ask if I was sure it wasn’t Torilis japonica. Honestly, it is always annoying when someone asks me if I am sure about anything. If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be saying anything at all. I am not one to exaggerate… If I tell you I caught a fish that was 3 feet long it is because I measured it and have a photo to prove it. I have never caught a fish 3′ long, by the way. 🙂

Torilis arvensis/Torilis japnica ?  on 9-20-20.

But… His question festered inside of me for a long time. I figured since I have been picking those darn stick tights off my clothes since I was a kid, they had to be Torilis arvensis. After all, Torilis japonica wasn’t discovered in Missouri until 1988. Heck, the species wasn’t even named until… OK, so it was first named Caucalis japonica in 1777 and that was a long time ago. They aren’t a native species after all and Torilis arvensis wasn’t even “collected” in Missouri until 1909. Besides that, both species were misidentified by a lot of botanists, horticulturalists (and so on) because they didn’t know the difference between the two. So, which one was actually here in the first place?

Torilis arvensis/Torilis japonica ? on 5-11-20, #698-29.

They are basically exactly the same and some websites even say one species is a synonym of the other, including one of my favorite wildflower sites. According to Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, many authors mistakenly treated Torilis arvensis as Torilis japonica despite detailed descriptions and reversed the distributional range statements of the two species. Despite Steyermark’s lengthy description about both species, it doesn’t mention the key ingredient. Not even enough to be able to tell the two apart. Likely, by the time the first specimens were collected, both species were fairly widespread. It is just my opinion, but farmers back then didn’t really think about weed species that much, and botanists didn’t really know what was really out there.

Well, I couldn’t take it any longer. Up till now, I hadn’t done much research about the two species because I thought, or assumed, the species here was Torilis arvensis. I had made the page for Torilis arvensis in May, but like a lot of species, I haven’t written descriptions yet. I got behind and anxious to get pages for all the wildflowers so I just basically added a little information, photos, and links. I didn’t feel I needed to get into research because the two species were so much alike that even experts can’t tell the difference, so how could I possibly do it? WELL, I was mistaken. Once I started reading about Torilis japonica, I found out their fruit has hooked bristles while Torilis arvensis bristles are straight to slightly curved.

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) on 7-11-21, #810-16.

SO, I took the two magnifying glasses to have a look at the bristles on the plants growing next to a shed in the “other” backyard. Well, the area in question is the old floor of grandpas old garage. One of the sheds is on half of it and the Hedge Parsley likes the other half. All that is left of the floor is old gravel and cinders. When I first came here, dad had used this area to throw anything that wouldn’t burn in the spot. I removed all the junk like old barbed wire, paint cans, oil filters, electric fence wire, and so on so I could keep it looking halfway decent. Anyway, I looked at the bristles on seeds that had been leftover from last year and couldn’t tell…

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) on 7-11-21, #810-17.

Then I looked at a few other clusters that still had a little green… Hmmm… It was still somewhat hard to tell but they looked VERY suspicious! Taking photos of what I see in I a magnifying glass is very difficult.

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) on 7-11-21, #810-18.

Then I looked at bristles on this year’s fruit. HA!!!

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley) on 7-11-21, #810-19.

Low and behold, the bristles have hooks! Well, I went from one spot to another around the barn by the gate, next to the barn, all the way to the twin Mulberry trees. There is no shortage of Hedge Parsley because it grows everywhere. ALL had hooked bristles… I could not believe what my eyes were seeing!!! I have Torilis japonica instead of Torilis arvensis!!! Well, at least the plants fairly close to the house are. I have not checked for hooked bristles everywhere yet. Now I will be checking everywhere I go! Well, at least when no one is looking. 🙂

I will keep experimenting with the camera and magnifying glass in front of the lens. There are just some close-ups I can’t get with just the camera. Some flowers are also very tough, but seeds are in a completely different category… It seems to have a lot to do with light, color, and even the background. It was also somewhat windy when I took the photos on June 11.

Small Marigold and Hedge Parsley seedlings look exactly alike. In the south flower bed where I have had Marigold ‘Brocade’ growing, the Hedge Parsley was also present. In the spring I had to smell the leaves to tell them apart.

Ambrosia artemisifolia (Common Ragweed) on 8-20-19, #615-2.

Ambrosia artemisifolia (Common Ragweed) also grows in the area by the shed among the Hedge Parsley. They also look A LOT alike until they start flowering. Hmmm… Well, looking at that photo again makes me wonder. I was sure at the time.

Well, I better close for now. I have a Torilis page to clean up a bit! I am not sharing the link because it is now weirder than before. 🙂

I have several posts in the making but I am waiting for an email confirmation for one. I think I need permission to use something… Well, while I was looking at the stick-tight seeds, I spotted a butterfly I had not seen before. Wait until you see it!

I also have to post about a goof. Well, I didn’t know any better at the time so I am calling it a learning curve. It really is a curve as you will see.

So, until next time… Be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and don’t forget to GET DIRTY!

 

14 comments on “Is It Torilis arvensis or Torilis japonica?

  1. tonytomeo says:

    That is almost a let down, to think that what was supposed to be a native is actually an exotic . . . or maybe the exotic secretly replaced the native. At least you found documented differences between the two species, which is more than can be said about the two species of blue elderberry that are native here, . . . which might be the same species.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pixydeb says:

    The question is which ones stick on better! Arvensis or japonica!! 😂 can’t wait to see the mystery butterfly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Littlesundog says:

    Now you have me wondering which species of hedge parsley we have in this neck of the woods! I’ve yet to see what purpose it has in the ecosystem except to annoy landowners or critters passing through. Ha ha! The seeds sure love to hitch a ride on our clothing but at lease the seeds aren’t as difficult to remove as most stick-tight type seeds or burs can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Lori! Time to get out the magnifying glass. You are right about them being easy to remove from clothing, but that just lets them spread easier. According to information, the flowers are attractive to many pollinators. Torilis japonica is also a medicinal plant, producing torilin, and is now being used in cancer research. Hmmm… Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I give you an A+ for determination and follow through. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Judy! Hmmm… Thanks for the A+. Knowing which species helps realize that Torilis japonica is much worse and more invasive than T. arvensis. It is not a species to take lightly as they only get worse. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Suzassippi says:

    I enjoyed this post. I had a similar experience with hedge parsley this spring. It was not until I was looking at an identification guide from a neighbor state that I saw the differences. I had intended to go back and correct the post, but put it off so long that I cannot even find it now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. susurrus says:

    Excellent detective work!

    Liked by 1 person

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