Beautiful wildflower or weed?

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Driving around, any astute observer has surely noticed the abundant wildflowers on the side of the road. In my area we have worlds of Black-Eyed Susan (the yellow flower) and the white flower about the size of a silver dollar is Queen Anne’s Lace.

Or if you have these white flowers in your pasture, you’d know them as Wild carrot.

And the scientific name is Daucus carota.

It’s called Queen Anne’s Lace, or wild carrot depending on your view of it. It is a non-native plant, brought to America by Europeans who wanted it for the garden. It easily spread. Its name, legend has it, came from Queen Anne, who was challenged by friends to create lace as beautiful as the flower. The story goes that while making the lace, the queen accidentally pricked her finger and had a drop of blood. Continuing the story, the plant’s grouping of tiny flowers sometimes has a tiny purple flower at its center that represents that tiny drop of blood.

As a non-native, it can typically do very well in another setting as they do not have their natural enemies that typically keep them in check.

It’s funny to me that both those common names are well known by how you view the plant. Vegetable growers yank Wild carrot up and hay producers spray it to clean up pastures.

Flower enthusiasts buy the seed for Queen Anne’s Lace and plant it carefully after all chance of frost has passed on a well-prepared seed bed. In fact, I found it online marketed under the label of “organic, heirloom and GMO free!” Oh my.

However you find these European transplants, they are especially abundant this year due to optimum growing conditions and roadside management practices that work in its favor.

It’s either nature’s art or a nuisance to food growers, a wildflower or a weed, according to the beholder.

In truth, Queen Anne’s Lace is listed as a noxious weed in at least five states. When you earn the title “noxious” that means it needs to be controlled, according several experts.

Queen Anne’s Lace is related to the carrot family, and the tap root is said to be edible. I’ve read that it tastes just like a domesticated carrot, but I can say from my very recent trial, it was far too tough to even chew.

Yet before you go grab a bite of it, be very cautious that you have the right plant before you eat it. Some sources report that if you crush seeds, it will act as a form of birth control. Some recent studies find some truth in the fact that the seeds and flower heads should be avoided by women pregnant or hoping to conceive.

Also, to the untrained eye, Queen Anne’s lace looks a little like poisonous hemlock. And Poisonous hemlock is very lethal if ingested.

A beautiful lacy flower or a wild weed to be removed? It’s all in what you call it.

Author

Cary Sims
Cary Sims
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu

Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.
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