Madeira Giant Black Parsley (Melanoselinum decipiens)

Melanoselinum decipiens (Madeira Giant Black Parsley) is a Madeiran endemic that is a case of Insular Gigantism.

What is Insular Gigantism?

Insular Gigantism is a biological phenomenon in which an organism isolated in an island increases in size when compared to its mainland relatives.

It belongs to the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae) family which includes known plants used in culinary like carrot plant or parsley.

It has been cultivated as a rare ornamental in gardens across Europe. In Madeira, it can be found at open spots in the laurel forest or humid places in the mountains.

The following photo was shot a few days ago in its natural habitat in the highlands of Madeira where it is growing between some rocks:

The plant has a thick woody stem which allows it to grow up to 3 m height. In the shade it can get even taller. The large pinnate evergreen leaves, that resemble parsley leaves, can reach 90cm long.

The plant is monocarpic, which means it grows for some years, flowers and then dies. When in bloom the plant gets very impressive, covered with umbels, dense clusters of tiny flowers. The flowers are pink to white.

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