When does this bloom?
Where does this bloom?
Common along open fields and roadside.
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is a variable biennial plant, usually growing up to 1 m tall and flowering from June to August. The umbels are claret-coloured or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3-7cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath; finally, as they turn to seed, they contract and become concave like a bird’s nest. This has given the plant its British common or vernacular name, Bird’s Nest. Very similar in appearance to the deadly Water Hemlock, it is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center.
Like the cultivated carrot, the wild carrot root is edible while young, but quickly becomes too woody to consume. A teaspoon of crushed seeds has long been used as a form of natural birth control – its use for this purpose was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use – it was found that wild carrot disrupts the implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. Chinese studies have also indicated that the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.
It is recommended that, as with all herbal remedies and wild food gathering, one should use appropriate caution. Extra caution should be used in this case, as it bears close resemblance to a dangerous species (see Water Hemlock). The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phytophotodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.
The wild carrot, when freshly cut, will draw or change color depending on the color of the water it is in. Note that this effect is only visible on the “head” or flower of the plant. Carnation also houses this effect. This occurance is a popular science experiment in primary grade school.