Queen Anne’s Lace

Anyone reading my blog knows I enjoy seeing, photographing, and learning about wildflowers. Moving to Vermont in July, I was eager to see and learn about the “new” wildflowers I would find here.

Almost immediately my eye was caught by Queen Anne’s Lace. Big, showy, white flowers – actually clusters of tiny individual flowers – on tall stalks, growing abundantly alongside the roads near my house, I could hardly ignore them.

Best of all, they change in intriguing ways over the course of their life from bloom to seed.

I did some cursory research.

The Wild Adirondacks website was helpful. The Adirondack Mountains are in northeastern New York, near the border with Vermont, so there’s much overlap of flora and fauna.

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carnota) is a nonnative wildflower with feathery leaves and clusters of tiny white flowers that bloom in summer. It is a member of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae) and the ancestor of the garden carrot. There are conflicting theories on the origin of the common name. Some accounts claim that the plant traces its name to Queen Anne, who apparently liked to wear lacy medallion patterns resembling the flower head disk. Other accounts trace the name to Saint Anne, the patron saint of lace-makers.

Wild Adirondacks

I admit, I would not have guessed they belonged in the carrot family.

Another common name for the plant is Bird’s Nest. When the flowers turn to seed, they curl inward, forming what looks like a small, cozy bird’s nest. For a hummingbird, maybe.

Queen Anne’s Lace flowers turning into “bird’s nests.”

Queen Anne’s Lace isn’t native to North America. Apparently it originated in the region that today includes Afghanistan, and spread to Mediterranean Europe before the Christian Era.

Some websites say the plant was brought to the Americas as a medicinal herb, but they don’t say when, or by whom. Wikipedia notes that the seeds and flowers were used as a method of contraception and an abortifacient for centuries. I found references to Native Americans using the plant for medicinal purposes as well (e.g., to treat diabetes, blood disorders), which would seem to predate introduction by European settlers. Confusing and contradicting references.

Doesn’t matter. It’s here now, and I love it. It makes the rural Vermont roads near my home even lovelier with its presence.

The boys photobombing my efforts to photograph Queen Anne’s Lace, August 6, 2021.

Feature image: Queen Anne’s Lace blooming at the edge of a field, with clover for company. August 11, 2021.

16 thoughts on “Queen Anne’s Lace”

  1. Isn’t it funny that when you see something from another person’s perspective it can totally change? We see that plant as a weed and you see it as a lovely flower. Guess I need to take another look…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right? In my home state of Washington, it’s considered a noxious weed, but I don’t remember ever seeing it. Just as I’ve taken a new look at dandelions in my yard – an early and needed pollen source for bees – maybe Queen Anne’s Lace needs a new perspective as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this link, Andy!

      I’m left wondering if the plants called by the same name – Queen Anne’s Lace – in the UK and the US are similar but actually different. I haven’t observed the seed pods seen in the link you provide, which are quite interesting and very distinctive. It doesn’t appear the UK version develops the “birds nest” appearance of the plants here as they go to seed…? And I think the leaves are different, but will have to go investigate in coming days to verify. My Vermont wildflower book lists a similar plant here, called Cow’s Parsnip, which is taller than Queen Anne’s Lace but otherwise looks alike in terms of flowers. I wonder if it’s closer to your Cow’s Parsley? Parsnip, Parsley – how different can they be?

      So confusing! But I love how the website you linked to describes the plant and its history, including being used as an insect repellent, and the vernacular name “Mummy die” to keep children from picking a similar looking flower/plant, the deadly hemlock!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have quite a few plants here – I know them as “Cow Parsley’s” but they are all different. some shorter than yours & some taller we have some almost 5ft tall. The flowers all look the same and are made up the same but again their size can be different size.

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  2. I know this plant but never knew it was a member of the carrot family. Imagine a family that encompasses Queen Anne and CarrotTop! That’s diversity. Didn’t know about its contraceptive uses either. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful seeing your discovery. When I first saw noticed them I was equally fascinated. It was late summer, so there was a mixture of fresh flowers as well as the variety gone to seed. So nice to see them again in your post

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    1. They are lovely, aren’t they? I took a photo this evening while walking my dogs, setting sunlight on a collection of Queen Anne’s Lace, some in full bloom, others in various stages of curling inward to form “bird nests” as they go to seed. Such an interesting plant!

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  4. Beautiful images Rebecca. I too love Queen Anne’s Lace and have photographed it profusely. In our old neighborhood there was a huge open space of land full of these gorgeous flowers that we often walked by. I therefore have some lovely images of my kids in and among the flowers, when they were little. Lovely!

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