Falcaria vulgaris Bernh. - Sickleweed

Systematic position.

Family Apiaceae Lindl. (Umbelliferae Juss.), genus Falcaria Host


Falcaria Rivini Host

Biological group.

This is a biannual plant that is able to develop as a perennial.

Morphology and biology.

Plant is 30-60 cm tall. Root is spindle-shaped, straight. Stem is upright, grooved, branched, glaucous, glabrous above; in lower part the stem together with leaves can be velvety pubescent. Leaves have more or less long petioles, almost leathery; root leaves are often entire or ternate; in the middle of the stem they are twice or three times ternate; upper leaves are simply pinnatisect and more or less sessile. Leaf segments are linear or linear-lanceolate, with frequent gristly acuminate denticles along the edges. Inflorescence is compound umbel with white flowers. Umbels have 5-10 thin equal rays. Bract consists of 4-8 linear-setaceous leaflets being later deflected. Bracteoles of partial umbels consist of 4-8 unequal leaflets; inner leaflets are shorter, outer ones are longer and approximately reaching the length of rays of partial umbels. Fruit is achene, yellowish-brown, oblong-linear, glabrous, slightly compressed laterally, with wide blunt ribs. This plant flowers in June-August, sometimes beginning in the first year of its life; bears fruits in July-September. Maximum productivity is up to 900 achenes, which germinate from a depth of no more than 4-5 cm. F. vulgaris reproduces vegetatively by rootstocks from the second year of its life.


It grows in the European part of the Former Soviet Union, the Caucasus, Western Siberia and Central Asia. It is also distributed in the middle and southern parts of Western Europe, in the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Iran and is an adventive plant in North Africa, North and South America.


F. vulgaris does not grow on sandy or stony soils, preferring chernozems. This plant can tolerate drought.

Economic significance.

F. vulgaris most often infests perennial grasses, and also grain and tilled crops. As a ruderal plant, it grows along roads, ditches and riverbanks, in forest clearings, meadows and uncultivated lands. Fruits of this plant have antibacterial properties and are used in medicine. This plant can be used as a vegetable and spicy herb in culinary practices. It is a bee plant. Control measures include shallow plowing followed by deep plowing, thorough pre-sowing soil treatment, mowing of weed before it flowers.

Reference citations:

Keller B.A., ed. 1934. Weed plants of the USSR. V. 3. Leningrad: AN SSSR. 448 p. (In Russian)
Melnichuk O.S., Kovalivska G.M. 1972. Atlas of the most widespread weeds of the Ukraine. Kiev: Urozhai. 27-28 p. (In Ukrainian)
Nikitin V.V. 1983. Weed plants of the USSR flora. Leningrad: Nauka. 454 p. (In Russian)
Rostov State Pedagogical University. 2004. Sickleweed. Virtual herbarium of Rostov region. Rostov: http://rspu.edu.ru/projects/plants/falcaria.html (In Russian).
Sickleweed. 2004. Weeds: Database of Grass master. Human garden: http://humangarden.ru/sofia/findnewdb.php?rast=1501 (In Russian).
Ulyanova, T.N. 1998. Weed plants in flora of Russia and other CIS countries. St. Petersburg: VIR. 343 p. (In Russian)
Visyulina O.D., ed. 1970. Weeds of Ukraine (reference-identification guide). Kiev: Naukova Dumka. 508 p. (In Ukrainian)
Volkov A.N., ed. 1935. Areas of distribution of the major weed plants in the USSR. Moscow-Leningrad: Publishing House of Kolchoz & Sovchoz Literature. 153 p. (In Russian)

© Larina S.Yu.

© Photo Yu.S. Lee

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