By Krzysztof Ziarnek, via Wikimedia Commons
By Krzysztof Ziarnek, via Wikimedia Commons

Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota

Family: Apiaceae, the Carrot Family

Description: Non-native biennial herb 0.4-1m tall. White flowers with 5 petals arranged in an umbel, usually with a red-purple flower in the center. Stems covered with bristles (“Queen Anne’s hairy legs”). Carroty odor throughout.

Abundance: Common

Habitat: Dry fields, waste areas

Plant Parts Used: Root, seeds, flowers

Food: Edible root

Other: Contraceptive, Diabetes

By Janus (Jan) Kops, via Wikimedia Commons
By Janus (Jan) Kops, via Wikimedia Commons

Ray calls Queen Anne’s Lace “wild carrot,” which is probably a more fitting common name since it is a type of carrot that grows in the wild. Ray primarily uses the root of this plant as a food, just like the common orange carrot (Daucus carota ssp. sativus). He says it is a pain to dig and that “you must be careful you identify it correctly,” as it has some poisonous lookalikes such as poison hemlock. Sue also eats this root as a carrot. In Linda Runyon’s book, she says that the flower can be dried and eaten like potato chips. Queen Anne’s lace is also high in beta carotene and niacin. Runyon also said the seeds can be used as a salt substitute in small quantities.

Interestingly, there is currently research being done on the effectiveness of using Queen Anne’s Lace seeds as a contraceptive. In a very informative article by Robin Rose Bennett, she gives personal examples and stories of the effectiveness of consuming the seeds and flowers as a contraceptive. She also includes information on books, herbalists, and classes with more information about this effect as well as references from eight scientific journals, which purport Queen Anne’s Lace’s contraceptive effects, including Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Journal of Advanced Zoology, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, and Bulletin of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.

Native Americans have used Queen Anne’s Lace for many purposes, primarily as a food. An infusion of the flowers has been used for diabetes or as a wash for swelling. Mi’kmaqs have used the leaves as a purgative.

Caution: Queen Anne’s Lace must not be confused with poison hemlock (Conium maculatum): Queen Anne’s Lace has hairy leaves and stem, while poison hemlock’s leaves and stem are hairless. Queen Anne’s Lace leaves can be phototoxic.

Note: This post is part of my Plants and People series. See my Plants and People page for more information about the project and the people referenced in this post.

References:

  • Bennett, Robin R. “Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota):  A Plant for Conscious, Natural Contraception.” Wisewoman Healing Ways, 2007. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <http://www.robinrosebennett.com/wild_carrot%20article.htm&gt;.
  • Hayes, Terry-Anya. Personal interview. 27 Oct. 2010.
  • Michener, Martin C. Botany Everywhere: Woods, Field, Home, and Garden Plants of NE USA, Third Edition. Hollis, NH: MIST Software Associates, Inc., 2009. PDF.
  • Mittelhauser, Glen H., Linda L. Gregory, Sally C. Rooney, and Jill E. Weber. The Plants of Acadia National Park. Orono, Me.: University of Maine, 2010. Print.
  • Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Medicinal Plants: an Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Portland, Or.: Timber, 2009. Print.
  • Moerman, Daniel. “Native American Ethnobotany: A Database of Foods, Drugs, Dyes and Fibers of Native American Peoples, Derived from Plants.” UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. Web. 14 Dec. 2010. <http://herb.umd.umich.edu/&gt;.
  • Reitze, Raymond and Nancy. Personal interview. 8, 15 Oct. 2010.
  • Runyon, Linda. From Crabgrass Muffins to Pine Needle Tea: a National Wild Food Field Guide. Shiloh, NJ: Wild Food, 2002. Print.
  • Szwed, Sue. Personal interview. 12 Nov. 2010.
  • Turner, Nancy J., and Patrick Von Aderkas. The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms. Portland: Timber, 2009. Print.
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