I’m sure that most towns and cities across the planet will have a family whose power and influence spreads throughout the town. They might own a few restaurants, small businesses, pubs or shops and they will certainly have more than their fair share of cocksure members. Members who as youths would swagger around the playground acting invincible. Indeed, they kind of were, as everyone would know that they had a “hard” uncle or “rock hard” cousins, and would learn to not to mess. We certainly did in my hometown of Northampton, a family gave rise to more than a couple of school bullies, boys who’d find a protective shield behind their family’s legendary tales of petty crime and indiscriminate violence. Yet some of the members were extremely kind, caring, good natured and even good company. In many ways, the plant kingdom can be similar. There are dominant plants in certain areas and plants that, although related, can show very different traits. Take the Apiaceae family (or carrot family) for example they really are the godfathers of the plant world.
This family, the 16th largest family of flowering plants, has almost 4000 members and their influence and power spreads across all corners of the world. Even if you are not a forager I’m certain that you will have eaten a plant from this family in some form or another as it includes, parsley, carrots, parsnips, dill and coriander in its clan along with wild plants such as cow parsley common hogweed and wild carrot . These are the kind members of the family, the members that most people can eat without any ill effects. Yet, just like my hometown mafia, this family has a darker side, a side that can hurt, or perhaps even kill. This family, the Apiaceae or parsley/carrot family contains the highly toxic hemlock Conium maculatum L and the invasive and toxic giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum.