While the plants themselves are very different, the flowers of cow parsley and hogweed, also known as cow parsnip, are very similar except in size. See index.asp?pageid=732593
Two varieties are found here. As they don't share the same time slot during the season, they can be confused with each other. The native white one rises in spring, while the pink one follows on in mid-summer.
WHITE COW PARSLEY : Anthriscus sylvestris
Also known as Queen Anne's lace, mother die, fairy lace, lady’s lace, hedge parsley.
** It has a close resemblance to hemlock which dangerous. A defining difference are purple spots on the stems of hemllock See index.asp?pageid=732037
The Woodland Trust tells us it is A true roadside stunner, cow parsley is a familiar sight in the UK. It’s a hardy plant which is popular with pollinators and grows just about anywhere. As you can see from the photos taken in the second week of June, it is indeed a stunner, but you will also see it is already beginning to go brown. These were found on the banks of the upper Leven and only a few.
Compare with sweet cicely. index.asp?pageid=732042
The flowers of cow parsely are umbels, in other words clusters of flowers with stalks which come from a common centre. The young or less developed plants have many clusters of white flowers which are fairly flat on top. As they mature they can become balls as seen in the photo. The plants may not all reach this stage depending on whether they have been disturbed or mowed.
The alternative name for cow parsley is Queen Anne’s lace. This harks back to a folk tale that the flowers would bloom for Queen Anne and her ladies in waiting and reflect the delicate lace they wore.
The flowers as you will usually see them. Note the leaves which are almost fern-like.
Much the Leven towpath is festooned with great shows of cow parsley through May and June.
Some cow parsley on the banks of the upper Leven which have grown quite large, The flower heads have developed into balls and through early June begin to go brown.
The great white frothy show along the river bank, road embankments and other places continues into the sunmer. But by mid-June some of the flowers are exhausted and give way to the serious task of producing and disseminating seeds. Not much to look at in this tangle .....
... but some would look fine in a dry arrangement.
It is mid July and most, but not all white cow parsley is reduced to stems with bare "umbrella" frames. But the show is not quite over. Some of the leaves turn a rich burgundy colour.
While the flowers are larger stems may have been superceded by other similar looking plants freshs leaves can be found into September.
Cowparsley can often be confused with the much larger hogweed and other plants. We get used to seeing the white sprays of cowparsley flowers over the early summer and may not realise that they have been replaced by smaller, but similar yarrow. index.asp?pageid=733110 Cowparsley has fern-like leaves while yarrow has leaves that are more like feathers.
PINK COW PARSLEY : Chaerophyllum hirsutum 'Roseum'
Many gardening websites deride white cow parsley as an invasive weed, but some consider this pink variety as much prized for its beauty as a garden plant. It is not invasive like it's relative, the white Cow Parsley. it forms a good sized clump but does not readily self seed.
It has probably escaped from a garden as it is not native to the UK, but rather to native range is Central and Southern Europe to Ukraine.
At about the time most cow parsley was beginning to wane, this pink variety began to appear in late June on the Leven towpath.
The petals are almost white, but the rest of the flower is pink.