Ask your home and garden experts.
Queen Anne's Lace is also called "wild carrot." It is a common plant that we see a lot of and it grows in fields, ditches, and open areas. The plant came to North America from Europe, and the carrots that we eat today were once cultivated from this plant, hence the name "wild carrot"!
This was new for me to learn but the large taproot of QAL is a carrot and is edible. However, the leaves are toxic, and although they aren't dangerous to your health they may irritate your skin. QAL is available for many months of the year as a cut flower but more commonly around the summer and fall. It certainly is the nicest this time of year. If you like QAL it is best to buy it from a florist (unless perhaps you grow it yourself) because picking it from the wild can result in a ton of spiders and other bugs invading your home--they like to hide in the QAL.
If you want to have QAL in your garden it apparently is a biennial plant which means it will live for 2 years. The first year it has strong growth and the second year it blooms. It also is the type of plant which will eventually attract predators. But first the QAL will attract aphids, and the predators will come and attack the aphids. Then they will move on and attack pests in other areas of the garden!
It can grow up to 4 feet tall. Many people think of QAL, the wildflower, as more of an invasive weed than a pretty flower because it will take over and crowd out other plants.
Animals are fans of this wildflower since many caterpillars eat the leaves, and bees and other insects like the nectar. For those who like to forage for edible plants, QAL is edible but there is a similar looking plant called Water Hemlock that is deadly poisonous. So if you're wanting to try out QAL first get it identified by an expert!
An interesting note: some people firmly believe that the seeds of QAL will prevent pregnancy.
As for where the name comes from--there were a number of ideas and no one seems to know for sure. Below is a sampling of a few of them that I found. Choose your favourite!
* The most common opinion is based on British legend that QAL is named after Queen Anne of Denmark who came to England to become the wife of King James I of England. According to legend, Queen Anne challenged the ladies-in-waiting to a contest to see who could produce a pattern of lace as beautiful as the lace pattern of the wild carrot. Queen Anne apparently was an expert in lace and the ladies knew they could not compete against her talents she was the chosen as winner.
* The white florets are like a lace collar surrounding the tiny purplish floret you see in the center which is the queen.
* While Queen Anne was working on some lace she pricked her finger and blood dropped on the lace. Looking at the wild QAL, you can see that the small white florets have a reddish purple dot in the middle.
* The plant name doesn't come from Queen Anne but is named after Saint Anne, the patron saint of lacemakers.
* The British believed that the white clusters resembled Queen Anne's lacy headdress.
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