Torilis japonica (erect hedge-parsley)

description: herbaceous perennial

place of origin: Europe, Asia, northern Africa

urban habitat: found in dry, disturbed areas, along roadsides, railroads.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; food for wildlife.

history: Torilis japonica was introduced into North America at the start of the 20th century and spread rapidly. Its spikey fruits cling to clothing and fur, allowing the plant to spread. Its leaves and roots are edible and it has been found to be medicinally useful in the treatment of coughs, fevers, tumors, intestinal worms and indigestion. It is used in Korea for treatment of amnesia, skin irritations, acidosis, and scabies. The substance torilin can be extracted from the plant and has been shown to inhibit the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, which can lead to the underdevelopment of male genitalia.