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The West Central Wisconsin Invasive Plant Management Area group has announced an outbreak of wild chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris) in Chippewa County and Eastern Dunn County. It has been listed as a prohibited plant in both counties as it invades forest edges, fields, pastures, fencerows, roadsides, and disturbed areas.
Once it is established it will aggressively compete with native plants and forage plants for light, water, and nutrients while eventually shading out neighboring plants. As a prohibited plant, transfer, transport, possession, or introduction without a permit is not allowed.
The wild chervil is currently flowering with white flowers of 5 notched petals found in flat-topped umbels, 8 – 24” across. Each flower is 0.1 – 0.2” in diameter. It will grow to 3 or 4 feet or even taller with leaves that grow alternately on the stem with fernlike leaflets. The stem is hollow and branched. It reproduces by seed and lateral budding at the top of its roots. The taproot can grow to six feet deep. It can be confused with Queen Anne’s Lace which flowers later and has a more rounded umbel. An identifying characteristic of wild chervil compared to other plants in the parsley family is the presence of small tooth-like hairs at the top of the flowering stems.
If you have wild chervil on your property or roadside there are a variety of ways to control its spread. Grazing or mowing will need to occur multiple times each year to prevent seed onset and will need to occur for multiple years. If the flowers have already started to seed, then mowing is not advised as it will help distribute the seeds. If you do mow before seed onset, be sure to clean your mowing equipment to assure you are not spreading the seed bank from site to another. Foliar herbicide use is effective with Arsenal, Escort, Streamline having the best control. However do not use these if water or surface water is present. Habitat herbicide can be used for wet areas. Glyphosate shows slightly less effective control of chervil however it is not to be used in wet areas.
If you have questions about identifying wild chervil or questions about how to control the plant, you can contact Chris Gaetzke, Dunn County Land Conservation Planner, at 715-231-6540 or Jerry Clark, UW Extension Crops and Soils Agent in Chippewa County, at 715-726-7950. More information about other invasive plants and West Central Wisconsin Invasive Plant Management Area can be found at www.wcwisconsininvasiveplantmanagement.org and our Facebook page.