Ammi majus
Ammi visnaga
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by Lars Fröberg
(6b, 20080314)

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Ammi L.     

Linnaeus, Sp. pl.: 243 (1753).
Annuals or biennials, usually glaucous. Leaves pinnate, the upper ones narrow-lobed. Umbels with pinnatifid bracts. Petals white. Fruit slightly laterally flattened, with 5 low ridges on each mericarp.
Chromosome base number x=7.

Ammi majus L.              map              ill.

Linnaeus, Sp. pl.: 243 (1753). - Type: Linnaean herbarium 341.2 (LINN) lectotype, sel. by Jafri, Flora Libya, 117: 87 (1985).

D Kongekommen. F sudenporkkana. N narregulrot. S slöjsilja.

Therophyte (summer-annual); often heterophyllous; to 80(–110) cm. Stem solid at least at base, in upper part sometimes hollow except at nodes. Lower stem leaves once pinnate (the lowermost ones sometimes entire); blade 5–11 × 6–11 cm, usually with 2 pairs of leaflets; blade of apical leaflet usually elliptic, 33–62 × 13–22 mm; margin cartilaginous, serrate or doubly serrate with white-tipped teeth. Upper stem leaves 2–3-pinnatifid with narrow lobes having entire margins; sometimes all leaves 1–2-pinnate with elliptic to narrowly elliptic leaflets, or all leaves 2–4-pinnatifid, with narrow lobes.
Umbels usually rather large, with a slightly convex top; rays straight or inwards-curved, filiform, not swollen at base. Bracts usually pinnatifid, with linear lobes (sometimes leaflike with broader lobes), 5.5 cm; borders distinctly membranous at base. Umbellules 12–45; pedicels slender. Bractlets 8–12, entire; borders broadly membranous at the base. Flowers actinomorphic to slightly zygomorphic, 20–48 per umbellule. Fruit oblong in outline; carpophore entire or slightly divided. Mericarps 1.6–2 × 0.8–0.9 mm, with a ventral groove and with 5 rather low and narrow ridges, sometimes interspersed with 4 indistinct ridges; stylopodia rather flat, styles directed outwards. – Late summer to autumn.

Distribution and habitat. A seed contaminant recorded from mills, vegetable oil factories, docks, bird-feeding places, fields (e.g., among Daucus carota) and gardens, also rarely escaped from cultivation (formerly grown as a medicinal herb and recently as an ornamental); first record S BhG Göteborg 1921. – D rare apart from København (first record 1928, scattered finds up to 1990); Sjæ 3 more places (earliest Slagelse 1957), NJy 3 localities (earliest Klim 1966), ØJy 4 records (earliest Lyngby 1980), VJy Troldhede 1950, SJy Padborg 1966, FyL 5 localities (earliest Odense 1956), LFM Nykøbing F 1965, Nakskov 1972, Brn Rønne 1943, 1996. N Ak Oslo 1929-34 (weed), Vf Lardal 1990, Larvik 1997 (mill), Bu Hole 1961, Te Skien 1972, 1978 (granary), VA Kristiansand 1964-67, Ro Stavanger 1981 (docks), Ho Bergen 1943, Modalen 1974-78, SF Lærdal 1963, ST Trondheim 1971, NT Frosta 1984. S Sk Kristianstad 1924 (mill), Malmö and Burlöv 1996 and 1999 (allotment areas), Glimåkra 1996 (weed with ornamentals), Kävlinge 2000 (soil bank), Öl Runsten 1982 (with Anethum graveolens), SmI Villstad 1987, Östra Torsås 1987, Växjö 1994 (earth pile), BhG 12 localities mainly 1935–67, Vsm Nora 1982 (bird seed), Srm 4 localities Upl 5 localities, Dlr Borlänge 1977 (garden), Hls Hudiksvall 1953 (docks), Ång Viksjö 2000. F now cultivated for ornament and very rarely escaping, formerly cultivated as a medicinal herb and also occasional in harbours and at mills; V Turku 1953 (harbour), Piikkiö 1988 (garden escape), Paimio 1998, U Helsinki 1940 (with Moroccan cork), 1954 (loading place), EK Kotka 1938 (mill), St Hämeenkyrö 1996, EH at least Tampere 1997 (garden weed), EP Vaasa 1952-53 (filling earth), PS Pielavesi 1929 (with garden refuse), SoL Sodankylä 1996.

S Europe, N Africa and SW Asia; widespread as a weed; also grown for ornament.
Similar taxa. Ammi majus is usually heterophyllous, but several specimens have only narrow-lobed leaves and are very similar to A. visnaga (rare casual). See also Daucus carota.

Rare casual

Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam. 1778. F sirosudenporkkana. N tannstikke. S tandpetarsilja. – Lit.: Täckholm (1974; ill.). – Similar to A. majus, but annual or biennial with a stouter stem. Lower leaves three or four times pinnatifid, with almost linear lobes having ± entire margins. Umbels convex to concave at fruiting stage, denser than in A. majus and with thicker, more erect rays (c. 1 mm) with swollen base. Umbellules 16–74. Bracts and bractlets without distinct membranous border. Mericarps with thicker ridges than in A. majus. – [2n=20, 22]
D ØJy Århus 1895–97, Sjæ Holte 1937 (weed from birdseed), Køge 1960 (refuse tip), Sorø 1964–68, København 1963, 1972. N ST Buvik 1934 (mill). S Sk Lackalänga 1925, 1950 (with wool), Malmö 1920, 1957 (docks), BhG Angered 1935, 1947, Backa 1956, Göteborg 4 localities 1940–53, Lundby 1927, 1931, Mölndal 1936–48 (with oilseed), Nödinge 1948 (railway station), Uddevalla 1935–46 (with oilseed), Upl Ed 2004 (refuse tip). – Also reported from F (Kurtto & Lahti 1987) but the record probably derives from Viipuri in present Russia. – A renowned medicinal plant native to North Africa, archaeophytic all over the Mediterranean to W Asia, elsewhere introduced and in some areas established. – Map (not in the book).


Kurtto, A. & Lahti, T. 1987: Suomen putkilokasvien luettelo. Helsingin Yliop. Kasvimus. Monist. 11.

Täckholm, V. 1974: Student’s flora of Egypt, ed. 2. Beirut.