Wild chervil is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial from the parsley family, introduced to North America from Europe. It was first brought to North America as part of European wildflower seed mix used for plantings along hedgerows and meadows.
This species is short-lived, forming a rosette of only leaves in the first year, then flowering and producing seeds in the second year. As a heavy seed producer, it is easily spread to new locations. Wild chervil has few checks on its population in North America and can quickly take over an area, displacing native species and forming dense stands that are difficult to control.
Wild chervil can be found throughout the United States from Tennessee and North Carolina, west to Washington and throughout northeastern states. It is found in Canada on the west coast in British Columbia, Ontario, and the east coast in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Quebec. It is commonly found in southern and central Ontario along roadsides, meadows and pastures in rich moist soils.
Impacts of Wild Chervil
- An aggressive competitor, with broad leaves that shade out surrounding vegetation and limit water and nutrients for other plants.
- When mature, it forms tall dense vegetation stands that are unpalatable to livestock.
- Produces large amounts of seeds that are easily spread by people, animals and the wind.
- Difficult to control due to resistance to certain herbicides and a deep root system.
- Host to the plant disease yellow fleck virus, which can impact species in the carrot and parsnip family.
How to Identify Wild Chervil
- First year plants form a small rosette of fern-like leaves.
- Herbaceous biennial that can reach up to 1 m tall in its second year.
- Stems are covered in hair and hollow.
- Leaves have bases that clasp around the stem, with fern-like leaflets that are arranged alternately.
- Flowers are tiny, white with 5 petals and located on top of the stem in an umbrella-shaped cluster. Blooming from late May to July.
- Seeds are greenish brown to dark brown and smooth about 6 mm long.
What You Can Do
- Learn how to properly identify wild chervil and how to prevent accidentally spreading this invasive species.
- Avoid using invasive plants in gardens and landscaping.
- Purchase non-invasive plants from reputable horticultural suppliers.
- Learn how to control invasive plants on your property.
- Do not dispose of invasive plants in the compost pile – discard them in the regular garbage.
- When hiking, reduce the spread of invasive plants and seeds by staying on trails and keeping pets on a leash.
- If you find wild chervil or other invasive species in the wild, please contact the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, or visit EDDMapS Ontario to report a sighting.
OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2012). Wild Chervil. Retrieved from: www.invadingspecies.com.
This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.
Header photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org