Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil)

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) observed on 4-11-20, #686-8.

Spreading Chervil

Chaerophyllum procumbens 

kee-roh-FIL-um  pro-KUM-benz

Synonyms of Chaerophyllum procumbensChaerophyllum articulatum Bosc ex DC., Chaerophyllum bifidum Willd. ex DC., Chaerophyllum boscii Steud., Chaerophyllum procumbens var. boscii DC., Chaerophyllum procumbens var. tainturieri J.M.Coult. & Rose, Myrrhis bifida Spreng., Myrrhis procumbens (L.) Spreng., Scandix procumbens L.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (L.) Crantz is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Spreading Chervil. It was named and described as such by Heinrich Johann Nepomuk von Crantz in Classis Umbelliferarum Emendata.. in 1767. It was first named Scandix procumbens by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Chaerophyllum procumbens var. shortii Torr. & A.Gray is an accepted infraspecific name.

The genus, Chaerophyllum L., was named and described as such by Carl Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Plants of the World Online lists 70 accepted species in the genus (as of 4-12-20 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the Apiaceae Family with a total of 444 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made.

Distribution map of Chaerophyllum procumbens from the USDA Plants Database. Published on the internet at Retrieved on April 16, 2020.

The distribution map for Chaerophyllum procumbens above is from the USDA Plants Database. The map on Plants of the World Online doesn’t show the range this map does.

There are several links at the bottom of the page for further reading and a more positive plant ID.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #686-9.

Just about any wooded area on the farm has an ample supply of this wildflower. The Chaerophyllum procumbens, also known as Spreading Wild Chervil, is an annual that can either come up in the spring or winter depending on your climate and temperature. It also shares the common name, Wild Chervil, with its cousin Chaerophyllum tainturieri. The two species are virtually indistinguishable from one another until they produce fruit and seeds.

Several links at the bottom of the page give more and elaborate botanical descriptions.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #606-10.

There are several other members in the family that have very similar leaves and this species is not the chervil used in cooking. I believe that is Anthriscus cerefolium commonly known as Garden Chervil or French Parsley. They look very similar but are not native to the U.S. and not found in Missouri in the wild. There are reports of a couple Anthriscus species naturalizing in some states. They can be distinguished from the Spreading Chervil because they lack bractlets under the umbels.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #686-11.

The upper portions of the stems terminate with compound umbels with groups of umbellets. Each umbellet consists of 2-7 flowers with five white petals and 5 stamens. Flowering occurs from the spring into early summer.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #606-12.

The leaves grow in an alternate fashion and grow to 4″ long x 2″ wide or thereabouts. Leaves are smooth to slightly hairy (glabrous to slightly pubescent). Leaves are said to be double-pinnate, pinnately divided, and triangular-lanceolate.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #606-13.

Pinnatifid leaflets shallowly to deeply divided. GEEZ! Anyway, they are kind of soft and ferny looking. You can see the fuzz on the leaves in the above close-up.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #606-14.

Plants are erect to somewhat sprawly. Stems are light green or purplish-green and are multi-branching. Hairs grow from the stems in lines where branching occurs. Lower leaves have long petioles (stems) while the upper leaves have shorter petioles and are nearly sessile (no petioles). There is supposedly a sheath that wraps around the base of the petiole.

I will keep an eye on these plants so I can take photos of their fruit and seed. The fruit of C. procumbens are supposed to be straight and linear while C. tainturieri are flared toward the tip.

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky

NOTE: Plants of the World Online is the most up-to-date database. It is very hard for some to keep with name changes these days so you may find a few discrepancies between the websites. Just be patient. Hopefully, someday they will be in harmony. 🙂