That Pesky Dill Imposter: Identifying the Weed that Looks Like Dill

This plant is coming up in 2 different areas of my garden. I planted alot of perennials last year I am not sure what this is.

. Can anyone tell me if it is a flower or weed?20160505_093129_resized_1.jpg

As an avid gardener, I’ve dealt with my fair share of weeds invading my vegetable and herb patches. And there’s one in particular that gives me trouble every year – a pesky weed that looks frustratingly similar to dill. With its ferny, delicate leaves and tall stature, this unwelcome plant blends right in with the dill I intentionally sowed. I’ve even accidentally harvested it, mistaking it for my dill gone to flower!

If this sounds familiar, read on. In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of this dill lookalike and learn how to tell it apart from true dill.

What Makes This Weed Look Like Dill?

At first glance the imposter weed looks exactly like dill. It has the same feathery green leaves arranged alternately up a tall, slender stem. When young, it would be easy to overlook this weed among dill seedlings.

Once full grown small yellow flowers form in umbrella-shaped clusters called umbels at the top of the plant – just like dill. These delicate yellow blooms resemble Queen Anne’s lace and attract beneficial pollinators.

So with such similar foliage and flowers what tips off that this isn’t your average dill plant? Let’s go through the subtle differences.

Differences Between Dill and the Lookalike Weed

With close inspection, you’ll start to notice discrepancies between true dill and this sneaky doppelganger:

  • Stems – Dill has smooth, hollow stems while the imposter weed has ridged, sturdy stems.

  • Leaves – Dill leaves are delicate and fern-like. The weed’s leaves are more substantial with a glossy texture.

  • Flowers – The lookalike’s flower umbels tend to be flatter versus dill’s fuller, more delicate umbels.

  • Seeds – Weedy imposter seeds are larger and darker compared to dill’s lighter brown seeds.

  • Height – The weed grows taller, sometimes exceeding 5 feet compared to dill’s usual 3 feet.

  • Root – Dill has a long taproot whereas this weed likely has a fibrous root system.

Once the plants bolt, the differences become more obvious. But as seedlings, it takes a discerning eye to spot the discrepancies without side-by-side comparison.

What Weed is Masquerading as Dill?

This tricky imposter isn’t a true dill relative at all. Instead, it’s a member of the carrot family called wild carrot, also known as Queen Anne’s lace.

Botanical name: Daucus carota

Wild carrot is a common weed strewn throughout North America and beyond. A feral cousin of domestic carrots, it thrives along roadsides, in empty lots, fields, and untended gardens.

Like most weeds, wild carrot is adapted to success. It handles a wide range of soils, spreads vigorously by seed, and crowds out less robust plants. An opportunist by nature, it gravitates to bare soil and new gardens.

If you let it, wild carrot will gleefully invade your vegetable rows and flower beds. Its deep taproot also makes it difficult to pull or dig up fully. So it’s best to identify it early and stay vigilant with weeding before it takes hold.

How Wild Carrot Spreads

Each wild carrot plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds! And these seeds remain viable in soil for 2-3 years.

As wild carrot blooms, its umbels curl up into a bird’s nest shape. This helps the florets turn inward and protect the ripening seeds. Then as the seed heads dry out, the umbels unfurl and release the bounty of seeds directly onto the ground.

Wind, rain, and animal activity also help disperse the seeds far and wide. Without control, wild carrot will reseed itself enthusiastically. It takes consistent weeding, crop rotation, and prevention of flowering/seeding to manage this rampant weed.

Is Wild Carrot Edible?

Wild carrot roots, leaves, and seeds are entirely edible with a flavor similar to cultivated carrots. However, use caution when foraging wild carrot as the plant is easily confused with poison hemlock – a deadly lookalike.

Key differences between wild carrot and poison hemlock:

  • Wild carrot stems are hairy while poison hemlock stems are smooth and hairless.
  • Crush the leaves and smell them. Wild carrot smells pleasantly of carrots while poison hemlock gives off a rank, musty odor.
  • Wild carrot roots are tapered and off-white while poison hemlock roots are thicker with pale yellow sap inside.

When in doubt, steer clear! Forage wild carrot only when you’re 100% certain of the identification. The foliage can easily be confused with other members of the carrot family, some of which are toxic.

How to Control and Remove Wild Carrot

If wild carrot has invaded your garden, here are tips to curb its spread:

  • Pull weeds before flowers and seeds develop.

  • Mow down the plant periodically to stress the root system.

  • Mulch bare soil to discourage seed germination.

  • Solarize the soil with plastic sheeting to heat it up and kill seeds.

  • Practice crop rotation from year to year.

  • Amend and enrich soil to strengthen other plants.

  • Consider organic herbicides for spot treatment if infestations are severe.

  • Keep an eye out for seedlings and remove ASAP before roots establish.

With some persistence, you can keep this carrot cousin from invading your growing space year after year. A combination of manual weeding and preventive measures will help defend your garden against the wild carrot onslaught. Just take care to properly identify it first since it closely resembles other apiaceae family members.

How to Tell Wild Carrot and Dill Seedlings Apart

Telling the difference between dill and wild carrot seedlings takes a careful eye. Here are tips:

  • Dill sprouts have very fine, lacy leaves while wild carrot’s are more substantial.

  • Crush a leaf between your fingers. Dill smells bright and grassy while wild carrot has an earthy, carroty aroma.

  • Check the stems. Dill’s will be smooth and wiry while wild carrot stems have tiny rigid hairs.

  • Look closely at emerging leaves. Wild carrot’s first leaves are oval with irregular tips versus dill’s ferny foliage.

  • Dill seedlings often sprout in clumps while wild carrots pop up singly.

  • Wild carrot stems sometimes show a purple-red coloration.

When in doubt, let suspect plants grow for a few weeks until differences become more obvious. Promptly pluck any weeds masquerading among true dill plants.

Coexisting with Wild Carrot

While wild carrot can be weedy when unchecked, it isn’t all bad. This common plant has some ecological benefits:

  • Provides nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators

  • The feathery leaves offer shelter for beneficial insects

  • Host plant for black swallowtail caterpillars

  • Deep taproots break up compacted soil

  • Flowers lend beauty with their lacy white umbels

Rather than battling wild carrot at all costs, you can take a more relaxed approach:

  • Allow it grow undisturbed in parts of your landscape.

  • Leave up a few flowering stems for pollinators to enjoy.

  • Harvest some roots in fall to taste this carrot cousin.

  • Let natural cycles of disturbance and succession limit its spread.

So while wild carrot may be weedy, it does offer ecosystem services. With some strategic tolerance, you can minimize its sneakiest tendencies and allow it to coexist in balance with the rest of your garden plants.

Final Thoughts on the Great Dill Imposter

Once you learn to recognize it, that moment of “Hey, this isn’t dill!” will start to become familiar. Wild carrot may continue to pop up in your growing space from time to time, but you’ll be prepared to weed it out and keep it under control.

If it helps, think of outwitting this wily imposter as an opportunity to become a more observant, seasoned gardener. The skills you gain identifying subtle differences between plants makes you better equipped overall to understand and care for your garden long-term.

So stay vigilant for ferny seedlings, ridged stems, and flatter flower heads. And don’t let the wild carrot have the last laugh! With quick identification, persistent weeding, and prevention, you’ll be ready to defend your dill patch from this sneaky lookalike.

Re: Can anyone identify this plant? Is it a weed?

It looks similar to dill, but not quite as feathery.

Im also thinking it looks like portulaca. I think thats the name of the flower. My sister in law gave me some. Its an annual, but it does self-seed and comes back the next year.

What Is Dill Weed?


What weeds look like dill weed?

Other plants have ferny foliage like dill but a much different growth habit and/or flower include, chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) , false chamomile (sometimes called mayweed) (Tripleurospermum inodorum), pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea), asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), and asparagus fern (Asparagus …

What is the poisonous plant that looks like dill?

Parsnip looks like a dill plant or Queen Anne’s lace. It is yellow and can grow about four feet tall. Large patches of wild parsnip, also called poison parsnip, can be found in road ditches, fields, along bike trails and in prairie areas.

What is the wild plant that looks like dill?

Lomatium utriculatum (Common lomatium) native to California. Here are more photos.

How to identify dill vs dog fennel?

How can I tell the difference between dill and dogfennel plants? The dogfennel grows as a shrub with upright stems and light green feathery leaves. The true dill grows as a small herbaceous plant with its leaves arranged in a rosette manner arising from a rootstock. Its leaves are bluish green.

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