Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Queen Anne's Lace

First let me note that this plant is considered a noxious weed by the USDA and thus it is with some qualification that I wax romantic about Daucus carota, or Queen Anne's Lace. Also known as Wild Carrot.

So yes, Wild Carrot: This plant is actually the same species as the cultivated carrot, only the carrots we eat belong to a subspecies called sativus. It's a European plant and grows wild in this area, flowering in the summer.

Here you see that the foliage is much like the herbal tops of carrots. Note the tiny red flower in the umbel of otherwise white flower: that's there to attract pollinators. It's also part of the reason the plant has the common name, Queen Anne's Lace. Allegedly, Queen Anne, while making lace, pricked her finger on a needle and the red flower represents a drop of her blood.

After the plant starts to turn to seed, the stems holding the individual flowers and begin to curl up:

This, like Crown Vetch, is one of my favorite weeds. It has a great, herbal scent and it's a reminder that we are in the midst of summertime. The flowers don't last long, and when they begin to go to seed the petals fall quickly, making it a little messy as a cut flower. That said, in college I would help out at a florist, and each July we'd use this as an alternate to Baby's Breath (Gypsophila elegans) for filler with red roses. It's a striking combination.

1 comment:

@~~ said...

In England, an old name for it is "Bird's Nest" because of the way the flower looks when it has dried up. Really looks like a small bird could move right in.