Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Botany:Learning The Most Common Plants by Family, part 6: The Parsley Family

“The making of drawings to illustrate what is
observed should be encouraged.”
-Charlotte Mason, Home Eduction

In our Nature Study lessons we have been learning about the Parsley family. The Parsley family is identified by its often hollow stalk, flower with five petals, five stamen and compound umbels on stems radiating from a single point at the end of the stalk. An umbel is a group of stems that come out from a single point in the stem and look like an upside-down umbrella. The compound umbels which are the distinctive feature of the parsley family have flowers that radiate out in an umbel shape from the end of each of the points that end the first umbel. This family of plants is the most important to learn because the two deadliest plants in America belong in its ranks: Poison Hemlock and Water Hemlock. Water Hemlock has a hollow stalk, (as do many of the parsley family members) and children have died simply by using its stalk as a straw. Also, people often mistake the poisonous members of the parsley family for wild carrots and die after eating them.
There are many friendly and edible members of this family as well, however, including carrots, (in fact it is sometimes referred to as the carrot family) celery, cumin, anise, dill, fennel, parsnips and, of course, parsley. We looked at the hollow tubes in a stalk of celery an we put the stalk in a cup of water colored blue. Hopefully in a few days the tubes will carry the colored water up the stalk and then we can see the hollow tubes even better. In the fairy tale we have been reading (Shanleya's Quest) children are taught that there are deadly members in this family by Shanleya's adventures in getting away from the evil Parsley guardian who tries to poison her with a bowl of Water Hemlock soup. Thankfully she outsmarts him.

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