Edible Plants, Pacific Northwest
Pacific Water Parsley grows all over the Pacific Northwest. This plant is part of the carrot family. This plant can reach heights up to 65 cm in height, branching occasionally. The light green stems are hairless and are erect, but sometimes sprawl.
The flowering period runs from mid summer to early fall and lasts up to 8 weeks. The compound clumps of flowers are produced during this time period. Each flower is replaced by a single elongated seed. The root system consists of the roots and slender white runners that lie slightly below the ground surface. This plant reproduces in colonies.
The flowers attract small bees, flies, wasps, and other insects. The caterpillars of the swallowtail butterflies in the Pacific Northwest are known to feed on the foliage of this species. While growing in water, this plant provides cover for aquatic insects and small fish. It is unclear whether or not the foliage is toxic to mammalian herbivores and humans. I have never seen deer feed on this plant. Only the tubers are eaten.
Tubers are gathered, cooked and eaten. You should be very careful harvesting and eating this plant, due to its resemblance to water hemlock which is very poisonous. If you do not know for sure if it is the right plant, please avoid eating it.