The enemy: Bur chervil (Anthriscus caucalis)
Strategy: This is an annual weed that grows up to 3 feet tall with stems that are somewhat branched. The lacy looking leaves (like a carrot) appear to alternate on the stems, and when young, are quite hairy. This plant produces small white flowers in an umbel form (like an umbrella) and forms an oval seed that bears numerous small hooks. This differs from cow parsnip in that the parsnip flowers are larger, yet both are in the carrot family. Do not get this mixed up with poison hemlock, which has the purple markings on the stems. It is very aromatic and was originally brought in as a garden herb, quite often found around many old buildings.
Attack: As with many annuals, this plant can spread quite quickly. It mainly spreads along stream banks and moist, open spaces that have been disturbed. Most animals will not eat the plant as it is quite aromatic. Being that it is not desirable to eat, it does a great job of growing thicker each year as the desirable plants get overgrazed more often.
Defense: As this plant is an annual, mechanical control can be very effective. One must always consider if the digging up of the weed is causing more disturbance, thus introducing more weeds, or if spraying the weed to minimize the disturbance is worthwhile. Herbicides such as 2,4-D are effective early in the year. Once bur chervil is established, use Telar XP or Opensight, which are much more effective and will control other weeds, as well. I don’t recommend using Roundup as it will remove the grasses which are needed as competition to keep the weeds out in the future. Remember, weed control is a longterm adventure, not a short-term fix.