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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Apiales

Familia: Apiaceae
Subfamilia: Apioideae
Tribus: Scandiceae
Subtribus: Daucinae
Genus: Thapsia
Species (sensu Banasiak et al., 2016 & Weitzel et al., 2014):
T. asclepium – T. cinerea – T. eliasii – T. foetida – T. garganica – T. gummifera – T. gymnesica – T. meoides – T. minor – T. nestleri – T. nitida – T. pelagica – T. platycarpa – T. scabra – T. smittii – T. tenuifolia – T. thapsioides – T. transtagana – T. villosa

Species without valid combination in Thapsia, provisionally accepted (Hassler, 2018):
Elaeoselinum exinvolucratum – E. fontanesii – E. mangenotianum – E. tunetanum

Thapsia L., Sp. Pl. 1: 261 (1753).

Lectotype species: Thapsia villosa L., Sp. Pl. 1: 261. 1753. (designated by A.S. Hitchcock in Hitchcock & Green 1929: 141)


Elaeoselinum W.D.J.Koch ex DC., Prodr. 4: 215 (1830).
Margotia Boiss., Elench. Pl. Nov 52. (1838).
Guillonea Coss., Notes Crit. 109 (1851).
Distichoselinum García-Martín & Silvestre, Lagascalia 12: 100 (1983).

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 261. Reference page.

Additional references

Banasiak, Ł., Wojewódzka, A., Baczyński, J., Reduron, J.-P., Piwczyński, M., Kurzyna-Młynik, R., Gutaker, R., Czarnocka-Cieciura, A., Kosmala-Grzechnik, S. & Spalik, K. 2016. Phylogeny of Apiaceae subtribe Daucinae and the taxonomic delineation of its genera. Taxon 65(3): 563–585. DOI: 10.12705/653.8 ResearchGate Reference page.
Hitchcock, A.S. & Green, M.L. 1929. Standard species of Linnaean genera of Phanerogamae (1753–1754). pp. 111–195 in International Botanical Congress. Cambridge (England), 1930. Nomenclature. Proposals by British Botanists. His Majesty's Stationery Office, London. Biblioteca Digital Reference page.
Weitzel, C., Rønsted, N., Spalik, K. & Simonsen, H. T. 2014. Resurrecting deadly carrots: towards a revision of Thapsia (Apiaceae) based on phylogenetic analysis of nrITS sequences and chemical profiles. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 174(4): 620–636. DOI: 10.1111/boj.12144 Reference page.


Euro+Med 2006 onwards: Thapsia in Euro+Med PlantBase – the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. Published online. Accessed: 2016 Nov 27.
Hassler, M. 2018. Thapsia. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Aug. 25. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2016. Thapsia. Published online. Accessed: Nov. 28 2016. 2018. Thapsia. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 25 Aug. 2018.

Vernacular names
English: Deadly Carrot

Thapsia, commonly known as the deadly carrots,[2] is a small genus of poisonous plants in the family Apiaceae. Their center of diversity is around the western Mediterranean, extending into the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and Morocco. Some species are used in traditional medicine.[3]


Species of Thapsia are herbaceous perennials, growing 50 to 200 cm high. The inflorescences are large, regularly distributed umbels. The seeds have four wings, and are the main characteristic of the genus, which is distributed in the Mediterranean, on the Iberian peninsula, and North Africa.

The generic name Thapsia is derived from the Ancient Greek name θαψία (thapsía) for the members of the genus. The Greeks believe it to have originated from ancient Thapsos in Sicily.[4] It has a long history of being used in ancient traditional medicine. Algerians used it as a pain-reliever though they recognized that the plant was deadly to camels. The Greek colony of Cyrene exported a medicinal plant known as silphion, used as a purgative and emetic. Although its exact identity remains contentious today, some historians believe that the plant may have been Thapsia garganica.[5]
Cancer research

The chemical compound thapsigargin has been isolated from Thapsia garganica. A synthetic prodrug of thapsigargin called "G-202" is in preliminary clinical trials for cancer treatment.[6] The active constituent kills tumor cells by destroying their calcium balance. A biotech company called GenSpera, Inc. in San Antonio, TX is studying methods of delivering thapsigargin directly to cancer cells, avoiding damage to other cells in the body of the patient.[7]
Antiviral research

This same chemical compound thapsigargin is now being looked at as an antiviral to use against SARS-coV-2, the coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19. It has not yet reached the clinical trial stage. [8]

About 21 species of Thapsia are currently recognized. It is, however, a complex genus, and some authors may recognize different numbers of species.[4][9]

Thapsia asclepium
Thapsia cinerea A.Pujadas
Thapsia decussata Lag.
Thapsia eliasii
Thapsia foetida
Thapsia garganica L.
Thapsia gummifera
Thapsia gymnesica Rosselló & A.Pujadas
Thapsia meoides
Thapsia minor Hoffmans & Link
Thapsia nestleri
Thapsia nitida Lacaita
Thapsia pelagica
Thapsia platycarpa Pomel
Thapsia scabra
Thapsia smittii
Thapsia tenuifolia
Thapsia thapsioides
Thapsia transtagana Brot.
Thapsia villosa L.


"Thapsia L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online.
M. Seoane (1831). Neuman & Baretti's Dictionary of the Spanish and English Languages. William Clowes.
S. Iadjel; A. Zellagui & N. Gherraf (2011). "Reinvestigation of essential oil content of Thapsia garganica grown in the east of Algeria" (PDF). Revue des Sciences fondamentales et appliquées. 2: 30–34.
S. Castroviejo; et al., eds. (2003). Flora Iberica. Volume X: Araliaceae-Umbelliferae (PDF). Real Jardín Botánico. pp. 401–410. ISBN 8400081501.
M. Grieve. "Thapsia". Retrieved August 26, 2012.
"Thapsigargin prodrug G-202". NCI Cancer Dictionary.
Kristen Philipkoski. "Scientists Transform Deadly Plant Into Cancer Killing Smart Bomb".
David Nield. "Molecule Derived From Poisonous Plant Blocks All SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Cell Cultures".
Pujadas-Salva, A. J.; Plaza-Arregui, L. (2003). "Studies on Thapsia (Apiaceae) from north-western Africa: A forgotten and a new species" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 143 (4): 433. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2003.00233.x.

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