A familiar sight in meadows and along roadsides all summer long, Queen Anne's lace is a very pretty wildflower. Native to Europe and Asia, Queen Anne's lace is invasive in North America and some may consider it a weed. The leaves are delicate and thready, somewhat fern-like in appearance. The flat flower tops are a creamy white disk of tiny flowers, and look a bit like wild yarrow at a distance. The flowers are also similar to the flowers of goutweed, aka bishop's weed (Aegopodium podagraria).
While it has a place in the landscape as a source of food for pollinators and makes a long-lasting cut flower in a wildflower arrangement, Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is essentially a common weed. It is also commonly called wild carrot, as the root looks like a slender pale orange carrot and has a carrot-like scent. The young root is edible and can be eaten like a carrot, raw, in a salad, or cooked in a soup.
Queen Anne's lace spreads aggressively by reseeding itself. It adapts easily to poor soil conditions and tends to grow where many things won't. To cut back on the spread, it's a good idea to snip off the flower heads before they go to seed. The plants can also be dug out by their taproots before they go to seed.
|Common Names||Queen Anne's lace, wild carrot|
|Botanical Name||Daucus carota|
|Mature Size||1-4 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full to partial sun|
|Soil Type||Adapts to many soils, dry, sandy|
|Soil pH||Neutral to alkaline|
|Hardiness Zones||4a-11b (USDA)|
|Native Areas||Asia, Europe|
|Toxicity||Mildly toxic to some people|
Queen Anne's Lace Care
Being a very vigorous plant, Queen Anne lace needs very little care to thrive and will do just fine if left alone. To control the spread, snip off the flower heads before they go to seed in late summer.
Queen Anne's lace tends to like dry sunny spots like meadows and roadsides, but will also spring up in partial shade areas.
This plant is not at all fussy about soil and can be found growing in poor soil conditions such as vacant lots, curbsides, and parking lots.
Queen Anne's lace tends to be very drought tolerant and will thrive during a hot summer, standing tall in the meadow even when it hasn't rained for weeks.
Temperature and Humidity
Very hardy in extreme temperatures, Queen Anne's lace will survive in the scorching summer sun and will reseed even after a very cold winter. It doesn't seek out damp places and usually reseeds itself in places with plenty of sunlight and air circulation, suggesting it would not adapt well to humid conditions.
Propagating Queen Anne's Lace
You can dig up Queen Anne's lace when it's young and plant the carrot-like tubers in your garden, but this plant propagates most effectively by seed. The seeds can be gathered by gently brushing your hand over the flower umbels in late summer as it goes to seed. Scatter them in the desired place and gently press the seeds into the soil. They will eventually take root and come up the following year.
Queen Anne's Lace vs. Poison Hemlock
Though foragers are fond of Queen Anne's Lace as a wild source of food, it is very important to be able to distinguish it from its lookalike, poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). Poison hemlock is extremely toxic to humans and animals. These two plants can often be found growing in similar areas, and both are quite invasive in much of North America. Some differences can help avoid confusion.
- While Queen Anne's lace won't usually grow taller than 4 feet, poison hemlock grows to between 3 and 8 feet tall.
- Poison hemlock has umbels of tiny white flowers like Queen Anne's lace, but the flowers tend to grow in separate branched clumps instead of all in one flat flowerhead as they do on Queen Anne's lace.
- Poison hemlock's stems are smooth, hollow, and have small purple spots; Queen Anne's lace has slightly hairy stems.
- The two plants have very different scents. Queen Anne's lace root smells like a carrot; and poison hemlock has an acrid, musty odor, which some say smells like mouse urine.
Common Problems with Queen Anne's Lace
Queen Anne's lace is not bothered by any common pests or diseases, but they do often hide an insect that is quite problematic to humans: chiggers. These tiny red insects are almost invisible to the naked eye and can cause an irritating rash that itches terribly. The rash can be treated with ice or over-the-counter anti-itch creams. It's a good idea to shower or bathe after spending time in a field where Queen Anne's lace is abundant to avoid contact with chiggers.
Is Queen Anne's lace good for anything?
This wildflower attracts pollinators including butterflies and bees. The root is edible when it is young. Dried and roasted roots can be ground for making coffee.
Is Queen Anne's Lace actually a carrot?
No, but it is related to the carrot family.
How do I tell the difference between Queen Anne's lace and poison hemlock?
The stem of Queen Anne's lace is covered with tiny fuzzy hairs, while the poison hemlock stem is smooth. Poison hemlock grows much larger, from 3-10 feet tall. Also, the root of Queen Anne's lace smells like a carrot, while the poison hemlock root has a musty, unpleasant odor.
Why is it called Queen Anne's lace?
The name of Queen Anne's lace has somewhat fuzzy origins. Some sources claim that the plant resembles the lace that was commonly seen on fine women's clothing in the 17th century during the time of the British queen's reign. It is also said that Queen Anne was a skilled lace-maker and that the plant was named in her honor.
Queen Anne's Lace. Wisconsin Horticulture.
Poison Hemlock. Cleveland Clinic.