Garden and Forest 7(309): 31 (Jan 24, 1894)
Selection of the Parsley-wort
Henri L. de Vilmorin
Since 1872 I have been cultivating one of our Parsley-worts, Anthriscus sylvestris, a European weed, in order to change its slender and much-forked roots into fleshy, straight and clean roots like those of the Parsnip. Among the first package of roots raised from wild seeds a dozen were selected which had a tendency in their roots to larger and straighter bodies. Each root was planted separately and its seed harvested separately. Of a dozen lots obtained, eight or nine were discarded, and roots were selected only from such lots as exhibited some trace of variation. The next year a dozen roots or so were chosen, and a drawing of each root was made, which was planted separately and its seed harvested separately, as before. I have sketches of all these roots selected, so that it is possible to follow every stage of variation from each plant living at this day. For the first ten years the changes were slight, but now they are more and more marked with every generation, and in some of the lots the straight and smooth roots are the most numerous. My object was not to create a new vegetable, as the roots of Anthriscus sylvestris have such a strong taste of camphor as to be quite uneatable, but simply to show that careful and continuous selection could quite transform a wild plant in years which do not equal a quarter of the span of many human lives. Like results had been shown by my grandfather with the Wild Carrot, only these were open to controversy on account of possible crosses between garden varieties and the wild strains. But no such objection can be raised in the case of my Parsley-wort.
Sur une expérience de sélection (1900)
By Philippe Lévêque de Vilmorin