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