Queen Anne’s Lace
Carrot family (Apiaceae)
Legend has it that Queen Anne, the wife of King James I, was challenged by her friends to create lace as beautiful as a flower. While making the lace, she pricked her finger and it’s said that the reddish “mini-flower” often seen in the very center of the bloom represents a droplet of her blood.
Also called Bishop’s Lace or Bird’s Nest, in the language of flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace represents “sanctuary.”
Queen Anne’s Lace is indigenous to Europe but traveled to the United States in the colonial era and now has a foothold in nearly all the states. It is widespread in Asia and Australia, as well. In relatively undeveloped areas it spreads prolifically in meadows and along the roads forming rills and “lakes” of white, beginning in the later part of summer (usually August in the northern hemisphere). By early fall, the lace-like flowers turn from little doilies to seed-bearing “cups” as pictured above.
Queen Anne’s Lace is the wild progenitor of today’s carrot and has many edible parts. The flower tops can be added to salads, made into a jelly or dipped in batter and fried as fritters. The root and seeds can be dried and used as a tea. The roots have a carrot taste and can be used in salads or cooked like a green or vegetable. Roots must be harvested in early spring while the seeds are harvested in fall. However, Extreme Caution must be used! The plant resembles poison hemlock, so the two can be confused! (Also, pregnant women should NEVER eat the roots or seeds. These were used in ancient times for contraception and can cause uterine contractions.)
Although considered “noxious weeds” by many, these wildflowers are a beautiful addition to the countryside wherever they appear. The lacy flower tops retain their appearance when pressed and can be used for making greeting cards, for scrap-booking and for other paper crafts. They make a beautiful addition to a wedding bouquet but look just as lovely all by themselves in a vase.
As is often the case, a “weed” is a flower popping up where someone would prefer another plant…
Photographed along the road near home in Galena, Illinois
Canon Rebel XTi/kit lens