Monday, September 16, 2019

Queen Anne's bird nests

Queen Anne's Lace, going to seed.

Daucus carota, making a "birds' nest".

It's a wasteground, parking lot, roadside flower, blooming in late summer. This group is in an empty field in the Strathcona Dam campground.

The flowers are white, except for the one in the centre, which may be pink or purple; as the seed heads mature, they turn pink, then brown. The now-dried and brown nests persist through the winter.

These, and our domestic carrot, are both derived from the same species, the black carrot. Like the carrots we grow in our gardens, they are edible when young. (You really don't want to eat our cultivated carrots from a 2-year-old plant, either.) The young leaves can be added to soups or stews, whether they're from Queen Anne's Lace or our garden carrots. And I should try this:

The flower clusters can be french-fried for a carrot-flavored gourmet’s treat. Aromatic seeds good for flavoring soups and stews. (Eattheweeds)

But: If you're going to try eating Queen Anne's Lace, be careful! The extremely poisonous Poison Hemlock is a look-alike and grows in the same locations. How to tell them apart:

Both are in the Apiaceae family and have hollow stems, but poison hemlock's stem is hairless and has purple blotches. Even a very young poison hemlock will display the purple blotching. On the other hand, the stem of Queen Anne's lace doesn't have purple blotches and is hairy.
Also the umbrella shape of Queen Anne's lace is flat-topped, while the poison hemlock umbel is more rounded.
... the leaves of Queen Anne's lace, similar to the stems, will also have hairs on their undersides.
Queen Anne's lace has 3-pronged bracts appearing at both the base of the flowers and the main umbel. It's actually the only member of the Apaiceae family that has this feature. ... you'll see that poison hemlock is absent of the long bracts.
(Raven's Roots Naturalist School)

Look at the top photo, above, to see the distinctive bracts. The poison hemlock bracts are small, and lance-shaped.

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