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This is a genus of architectural biennials and short-lived perennials. Many are monocarpic, so the plant will die after flowering. They have large leaves and produce umbels of many tiny flowers, in green, white, purple or red. Parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine and also have culinary uses, mainly as a flavouring or decoration.
There are over 100 species, which grow in damp grassland or open woodland, across western Europe, to eastern Asia, and in California.
They do best in sun or part-shade in a fertile, humus-rich soil, but most will tolerate drier conditions, once established.