Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Queen Anne's Lace

photo by .Bambo. on Flickr
Queen Anne ruled over Great Britain from 1702 to 1714, but the flower named after her continues to reign in fields, meadows, and roadsides of America. The childhood legend says that the Queen was making lace and pricked her finger--which resulted in the red or deep purple floweret sometimes seen in the center of the "lace."


Each flower is made up of many little five-petaled individual flowers, with the smallest ones near the center. In each of the flowers around the edge, the outermost petal grows larger than the other four, giving the entire flower head its pleasing, symmetrical disk shape.


See the larger petals on the flowerets nearest the edge?
photo by +vega on Flickr
The shallow flowers are so wide open that it seems like their pollen could be washed out by a summer rain. But in wet weather, a portion of the stem about an inch or two below the flower head becomes so flexible it no longer supports the weight of the inflorescence, and when the head bends over, the flowers are protected from the rain. (Older plants that have lost their pollen stand tall in the rain.) 


Seeing Queen Anne's lace bow during rainstorms always reminds me that there's a lot more going on in nature than most of us realize--even among the weeds.

7 comments:

  1. There is a ton of Queen Anne's Lace around the byways of Oregon City just now. I have fond memories of playing with various flowers as a kid, with Queen Annes Lace being table cloths for the hollyhock dolls, or sometimes bridal veils, or bedspreads. We always thought the red flower in the center was a ruby in the lace. (What else when you're ten?)

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  2. One of my favorites.  I love it in a bouquet with bachelor buttons and wild sweet peas.  It doesn't last long, but it reminds me so strongly of carefree  college days.

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  3. Queen Anne's Lace is a beautiful weed!  Enjoyed reading the background of it's name and the photos are great!

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  4. Did you know it was also referred to as "Wild Carrot,"and around here  is a common plant in dry fields, ditches, and open areas. It was introduced to America fromEurope (of course!) The carrots we eat were cultivated from it long ago.  You can eat the large root, which is a carrot, but the leaves of the plant are toxic. Other plants resemble it but are toxic.  Check out :
    http://www.appindie.org/index.php/appalachian-culture/55-culture/735-weed-or-wonder-queen-annes-lace

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  5. Yeah, it's the wild ancestor of carrots--the taproot looks like a pale version of the kind we get from the store or the garden. It's best when young; it gets woody and bitter as it grows. BUT, like you said, eating it is not advised because there are similar-looking relatives that are deadly--most notably poison hemlock, which killed Socrates. So instead of eating it, you could try crushing one of the leaves--you should catch the familiar sweet aroma of carrot.

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  6. What a timely entry, Pat.  I love this flower.  It photographs well, has a royal name and is delicate looking. I have been admiring them on my travels to the coast, and see them just growing along the highway.  I particularly like the contrast of the Queen Anne's lace with the golden wheat or bleached grass. They grow on my wild overgrown hillside, too.
    Thank you for your information.  (And I'll stick to eating the orange garden variety of carrot. :}) 

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  7. Amen! Always and always.

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