Friday, May 31, 2013

Queen Anne's Lace

The long cold days of late spring 
have given way to hot and sunny days here in Tidewater.
And sun and warmth are two conditions perfect 
for one of my favorite field flowers: Queen Anne's lace, daucus carota.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, Queen Anne's lace 
is the forerunner to the cultivated carrot  (daucus carota, subspecies sativus).
The Encyclopedia says the origin of the carrot species
 is  present-day Afghanistan. That wouldn't have been my guess.
 I would have more easily guessed that Queen Anne's lace
 is related  not only to carrot, but also to parsley, fennel and dill.

Yet, I don't think of any of these herbs when I see Queen Anne's lace
growing in fields and along roads. 
I just love the white lace cap and the way the wildflowers sway gracefully in the breeze.
There is a tiny dark red dot in the middle
that is said to attract bees and butterflies
and other insects which frequent the blossoms.
In this photo, the red dot looks like a small black bug:

That red dot is a feature often overlooked,
as is the pale violet tinge the blossoms have before they open fully,
or the way the umbel closes into a cup when dried,
giving Queen Anne's lace its nickname "bird's nest."
Getting up close is the only way 
to really appreciate the secrets of wildflowers.
And Queen Anne's lace is full of little mysteries.

Tomorrow, Still Waters blogs looks at the evil cousin
of Queen Anne's lace.
Don't miss it!

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