Moon carrot is a rare UK wildflower
Although Seseli libanotis is rare in Britain, it is common near my house in Sussex. From June to September it is easy to spot and numerous along the cliff path between Seaford and Hope Gap. You know you’re in the right area when you see the noticeboard about it, as I spotted on my May hike over Seaford Head.
Seseli libanotis likes chalk grassland
The unusual wildflower is happy on the South Downs and doesn’t seem to struggle with the salt laden sea winds. It can be a relatively large plant in more sheltered positions – the ones I saw were up to about 50cm tall. It is from the carrot family, but sometimes a more substantial plant than wild carrot, Daucus carota, with large divided downy foliage. What makes it easy to identify once you have spotted that it is a carrot, is the convex shape of the umbel. I recently heard it described as resembling a cauliflower – presumably it’s this shape that gives it the description “moon”. Some of the umbels were more noticeably rounded than others. It flowers from June to August.
Moon carrot on Seaford Head
Seseli libanotis is a white flower without the characteristic carrot dot in the centre of the umbel, and its buds are sometimes pinkish.
The solid hairy stems have distinctive raised ridges.
At the base of the flowers you can see some long pointy green appendages. These are bracteoles. Where the flower stems meet, the appendages there are bracts. For comparison, Daucus carota has long divided bracts.
More flower pics:
The Moon carrot can be visually similar to Sea carrot, Daucus carota ssp gummifer – see page on Wild Carrots.