Queen Anne's Lace - (Daucus carota)

Common Name: Queen Anne's Lace
Scientific Name: Daucus carota
Family Name: Parsley (Apiaceae)
Other Common Names: Wild Carrot, Birds-nest, FoolÕs Parsley
Flower Color: White
Habitat: Roadsides, fields, dry waste ground
General Bloom Dates: May - September

General Characteristics:
An extremely flat flower cluster forms a lace-like pattern when viewed from above, the source of the common name. There is often a tiny deep purple floret in the center of the flower. When the flower has been pollinated it will curl upwards, like a cup. The leaves are finely divided and subdivided, much like those of the carrots we cultivate in our gardens. There is also a stiff 3-forked bract just under the flower cluster. Note also the hairy stem of the flower growing to heights of 3 feet. The root is white and smells like a carrot.
Plant Lore:
The name Queen Anne's Lace is said to come from not an English Queen but from Saint Anne who is the patron saint of lace-makers. One day while making lace, she stuck her finger with a needle and a small drop of blood fell onto this flower, leaving a permanent reminder with the purple floret in the center, that can still be seen on this flower today.

Modern Uses of this Plant:
This plant is a biennial with the flower appearing only in the second year. They are very similar to the domestic carrot, only they have gone wild. If you let the domestic carrots grow for several seasons without harvesting any, they will return to their wild state. In fact Queen Anne's Lace is an alien species that has escaped from countless gardens throughout North America.
The root can be used like we do carrots, however there are a few drawbacks to the wild carrot. First is that the wild carrot is tougher and not as sweet as the domestic variety. Second the wild carrot is white, not orange, because it is lacking "beta carotene", the precursor of vitamin A that helps prevent cancer. If you can identify the plant in it's first year the roots can be harvested and cooked like carrots. Beware as the flower and leaves are similar to that of Poison Hemlock, a deadly plant to consume. The main difference is the hairy flower stalk found on the Queen Anne's Lace and not on the Poison Hemlock.
Some people will harvest the seeds from Queen Anne's Lace and use them as a substitute for caraway seeds, which is in the same family. Queen Anne's Lace seeds are stronger in flavor, so a little goes a long way. The seeds can also be used to make a strong tea that is a carminative, used to get rid of excess gas from the stomach and intestines. This tea will also help the kidneys get rid of excess water, and is used as a treatment for kidney stones and bladder disease.