Queen Anne’s Lace

(Wikipedia): “The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.”

From the blog of the High Line:

“…Aggressive and hardy, yet alluringly attractive, Daucus carota, or Queen Anne’s lace, is considered an invasive and notorious weed in many parts of the world. Native to temperate regions of Europe and Southeast Asia, Daucus carota was introduced to North America by colonists as a medicinal herb for uses as a diuretic, an antiseptic, a treatment for digestive issues, a hallucinogenic and more. It has since naturalized itself across much of the North American continent.

Flower clusters bloom on umbels from late spring through fall. Each umbel contains hundreds of intricately woven flowers. The seeds ripen as the season progresses toward fall, curling the umbel upwards, shaping it into the form of a bird’s nest.

Daucus carota belongs to the Apiaceae, or parsley and carrot family of flowering plants. Many members of the Apiaceae family have become staple additions to our modern way of life such as fennel, celery, anise, and parsley. Apiaceae can most easily be identified by their compound umbels, similar to the flower clusters seen on the Daucus carota.

Queen Anne’s lace is said to be named after Queen Anne herself. Queen Anne was well versed in lacemaking. One day while sewing she pricked herself with a needle. A drop of blood fell unto her lace, leaving a single dark purple floret in the center of the flower.

Aside from its showy nature, most parts of the Daucus carota are edible and so it comes as no surprise that it has found its way into many kitchens over the centuries. Europeans cultivated Daucus carota and it was eaten as a vegetable in the Roman Empire. The roots are second only to beets in sugar content among root vegetables and were used as sweeteners by many cultures. Leaves can be chopped and added to salads and the flowers can be eaten raw or battered and fried. Most parts of the plant can be added to soups, stews, and teas to add flavor.

It should be noted, whereas Daucus carota has found many medicinal and culinary uses, it bears a striking resemblance to its cousin, poison hemlock, which is extremely toxic and fatal if ingested. Perhaps the most famous victim of hemlock poisoning was the great philosopher and teacher, Socrates, who was sentenced to death for his liberal thinking and was prescribed a cup of poison hemlock to fulfill his execution.

Daucus carota is considered a weed in the continental United States and an invasive in 14. It grows best in disturbed soils such as abandoned lots and along roadways. Planting is not recommended. If you must have it around, its spread can be controlled by carefully removing the birds nest seed heads before they fully ripen…”

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