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Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota)




















wild carrot
bird's nest
Queen Anne's lace


SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
Daucus carota.


CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.


TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of Queen Anne's
lace is Daucus carota L.


NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.




Habit: This adventive biennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves during the first year, bolting upward during the second year to produce flowers and seeds. Mature second-year plants are about 2-3½' tall.


Leaves: The basal leaves are usually double pinnate with long petioles. In outline, they are up to 10" and 4" across (including the petioles), narrow-

ing gradually toward their tips. Each compound leaf is subdivided into leaflets that are usually pinnate, while the secondary leaflets are entire, cleft, or coarsely toothed. The individual leaflets are rather narrow, pro-

viding the compound leaves with a lacy or fern-like appearance. Scattered white hairs often occur along the petioles, or along the margins and lower mid-veins of the leaflets. The round stems of bolting plants are finely ribbed and have scattered white hairs; they are hollow on the inside and branch sparingly. The compound leaves along the stems are alternate and have their petioles enclosed by sheaths. Otherwise, they are similar to the basal leaves in appearance.


Flowers: The flowering stalks are long and largely devoid of leaves, term-

inating in compound umbels of small white flowers. Each compound umbel has a whorl of green bracts at its base that are pinnatifid with linear segments. The flat-topped compound umbel is about 2-5" across and con-

sists of about 30 umbellets. Each umbellet has a whorl of linear green bracts at its base and consists of about 30 flowers. While the flowers are blooming, their slender pedicels are often white or greenish white. Each flower consists of 5 white petals and 5 stamens, spanning about 1/8" across. However, the central flower of the central umbellet is often red-

dish purple. There are forms of Wild Carrot where all of the flowers are light pink, light purple, or reddish purple; the latter color is particularly rare. There is no noticeable floral scent, although the foliage has a slightly bitter carrot-like scent because of the presence of saponins and possibly other chemicals.


Fruit/Seeds: Each flower produces a single ribbed seed that is ovate in shape. It is flat on one side, but rounded on the other, with white bristly hairs along the ribs. The color of the seeds is variable, depending on their maturity. They are initially light reddish purple, turning green and then greyish brown. As the seeds mature, the compound umbels start to close and assume a shape that is more or less spheroid. They can become de-

tached from the flowering stalks and blow about in the wind.


Roots: The root system consists of a stout taproot that is white and runs deep into the ground.


REGENERATION PROCESS: Queen Anne's lace propogates itself by


HABITAT TYPES: It is adventive from Europe and has existed in the
United States for quite some time. Habitats include thickets, degraded
prairies or meadows, areas along railroads and roadsides, lawns, pastures,
abandoned fields, fence rows, vacant lots, junk yards, and other waste
areas. Fire is not very effective in removing this plant from natural hab-

itats, where it can be moderately invasive.


SITE CHARACTERISTICS: This species usually grows in locations
with full sunlight, mesic to dry conditions, and a clay-loam soil that is not
too acidic. However, it will also adapt to moist conditions and other kinds
of soil. Wild carrot is aggressive and can be difficult to destroy. It can often be found in high maintenance situations, such as lawns, where it survives mowing and hand-pulling of plants by the rootstocks. This is because the deep taproot is difficult to remove and stores considerable energy to initiate new growth.


SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid-
summer to early fall and lasts about 2 months.


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Queen Anne's lace is found throughout the continental United States and most of Canada (except Alberta and the
northern territories). Queen Anne's lace is native to southwest Asia and parts of Europe, with a suggested center of diversity in Afghanistan. In its native habitats, this species often occurs on mountain slopes from 2000 to 3000 meters in elevation; however, the species has been aggressively bred and cultivated as a food plant beginning about 3000 BC. Consequently the
present habitats include much lower elevations and substantial appearance
in cultivation and at waste places.




IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar of the flowers attracts many

kinds of insects, especially flies and wasps, including parasitoid Gas-

teruption spp. (wild carrot wasps). The foliage is eaten by the cater-

pillars of the butterfly Papilio polyxenes asterias (black swallowtail).
The seeds cling to the feathers of birds and fur of mammals and are
distributed by them. It has been shown that the seeds can pass through
the digestive tracts of livestock and remain viable, which provides

another method of distribution. The foliage is not a preferred source of food to mammalian herbivores; nonetheless, it is eaten occasionally by rabbits and cattle. With the exception of the ring-necked pheasant, most birds don't use the seeds as a food source. Blue jays have been known to use the foliage of wild carrot in the construction of their nests. This prac-

tice appears to be beneficial, as it reduces the number of nest lice and other parasites, producing healthier hatchlings with a higher survival rate.
Apparently, the foliage of wild carrot contains an insecticide or insect



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