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The Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) or Queen Annes Lace is one of many umbelliferous plants to be found growing around the world. Although the species name for this ferny plant with the elegant, white lacy flowers is “Daucus carota”, the same one used for cultivated carrots it is not the same plant. As a member of the carrot family it has a long taproot and lacy leaves. Dig up and crush a Wild Carrot root and you will find that it smells just like a carrot.
It is yellowish in colour, spindle-shaped, slender, firm and woody; a pernicious weed in some areas. It is edible when young but the root (especially the centre) soon gets tough and woody due to the high content of xylem tissue. The domestic carrot is a genetic variant that lacks most of this tissue.
The wild carrot has finely divided leaves like that of the domesticated carrot. The leaves, petioles and flower stems may be densely hairy or have no hair. The leaves on the stem are arranged alternately. Flowering wild carrot may grow four feet tall. At the end of the stem is a primary umbel (seedhead) made up of numerous individual white flowers and possibly a purple flower in the center together with drooping, narrow bracts on the underside . Plants also may have many secondary umbels produced at any node on the stem below the primary umbel.
Each flower on the umbel produces two seeds. After seed set, the umbel closes upward. Once the seeds have turned brown, they are mature. The roots of wild carrot are typically white. The characteristic odour of carrot is present when any part of the plant is crushed.
Spent umbels curl inwards forming a depressed cup. The fruits are covered in hooked spines, which aid dispersal by clinging to the fur of passing animals. Flowering period (in England) is from June to August and the native biennial can reach a height of 90 centimetres.
Wild Carrot is also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, Birds Nest Weed, Bees Nest, Devils Plague, garden carrot, Bird’s Nest Root, Fools Parsley, Lace Flower, Rantipole, Herbe a dinde and Yarkuki. Herbe a dinde derives from its use as a feed for young turkeys-dinde.
“Daucus” comes from daukos, name given by the Greeks to some members of the the Umbelliferae family and it seems to derive from “daîo” : I overheat . Carota means carrot in Latin.