Dec 22 2010
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is easy to find in summer and winter because it grows abundantly in meadows, along roadsides and in waste places.
In winter its umbel flower head curls inward, holding the seeds like a nest inside. The tiny fruits are very interesting. They’re ribbed with rows of bristles and pop open on their long edge. This flower is holding the fruits and some snow as well.
Queen Anne’s Lace is in the Parsley family. Its two to three-foot stems are grooved and slightly hairy and its leaves — if still present — are many-branched and even more finely divided than parsley. If you’ve seen the leaves in summer they remind you of carrot tops and that’s exactly what they are. Daucus carota is the same species as our garden carrot and has a yellowy-white root. We eat carrots in the first year of their biennial life so we never see them flower.
Smell the leaves and you’ll get a whiff of carrots, parsley and parsnips. But be careful. Know your plants before you handle, dig or taste them. Poison Hemlock, the plant that killed Socrates, is also in the Parsley family and resembles Queen Anne’s Lace in many ways.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)