Torilis arvensis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaApiaceaeTorilisTorilis arvensis


An annual, rarely biennial, herb, almost exclusively found on arable land in autumn-sown cereals, but sometimes in other arable crops; also on waste and disturbed ground. It is perhaps most frequent on calcareous clays, but is found on a wide range of soils, including sands and gravels. Lowland.



World Distribution

As an archaeophyte T. arvensis has a Eurosiberian Southern-temperate distribution.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Arable and horticultural (includes orchards, excludes domestic gardens)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.2

Annual Precipitation (mm): 707

Life form information

Height (cm): 50

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 389

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -2.56

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Torilis arvensis (Hudson) Link

Spreading hedge-parsley

Status: scarce


A rare weed, most frequent on heavy calcareous clay soils, almost exclusively found in winter-sown cereal crops. It also occurs occasionally in other crops and on waste land in open, well-drained situations. It has poor powers of dispersal and tends not to colonise far from the location of parent plants. It is usually associated with other uncommon weeds such as Euphorbia platyphyllos, Lathyrus aphaca, Lithospermum arvense, Petroselinum segetum, Ranunculus arvensis and Valerianella dentata

T. arvensis is an annual or rarely a biennial: most seeds germinate in autumn, some in spring. Germination is intermittent, and seed is thought to remain dormant in the soil for several years. Cool, damp summers are known to inhibit seed-set, whilst harsh winters eliminate autumn-germinated seedlings.

Once widespread on the chalk and limestone soils of southern Britain, its range and frequency have diminished considerably since the 1950s as it has proved to be vulnerable to herbicide treatments. It also competes poorly with heavily fertilised modern crop varieties.

It ranges throughout western, southern and central Europe and south-western Asia but is declining and is threatened in most countries of north-western Europe. The centre of distribution is probably southern and central Europe, and it is probably at the edge of its range in Britain.

The fruits of T. arvensis are covered with bristly hairs which have incurved tips. The hooked tips of bristles on the fruit would cause them to cling to the fur of passing animals, as well as to clothing. In the absence of livestock, dispersal tends to be restricted.


A. Smith

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (155d)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1990.  Flora dels Països Catalans, II. Crucíferes-Amarantàcies.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.
Tutin TG
1980.  Umbellifers of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 2.