is for Queen Anne’s Lace and Quaker Ladies
Two lovely wildflowers, and I think it’s charming to imagine them meeting in a field somewhere.
This is Queen Anne’s Lace.
It has feathery fern-like leaves and a hairy stem and stands 2 to 4 feet tall. The white flower shaped like an umbrella is in fact many tiny flowers that look a bit lacy. Each tiny flower has a purple-red center.
As the seeds develop, the umbrella cluster curls up at the edges, and looks tangly, hence the other name it’s known as – bird’s nest.
But the real secret of Queen Anne’s Lace is that is also known as wild carrot. The wild carrot is in fact the direct progenitor of the cultivated carrot, and like the cultivated carrot, the root is edible while young. However it quickly becomes too woody to consume.
Extreme care needs to be taken when gathering Queen Anne’s Lace for ingestion as it bears a strong resemblance to poisonous Hemlock and Fool’s Parsley. Hence the reminder that “the Queen has hairy legs” while hemlock’s and Fool’s Parsley’s stems are smooth.
Medicinal use of Queen Anne’s Lace has included use as a diuretic, treatment of bladder infections and kidney stones, as a contraceptive and abortifacient, treatment for hangover, and as an aphrodisiac. At one time the flowers were soaked in rain water and used as perfume.
Lore has it that Queen Anne, the wife of King James I, set a challenge to the ladies in her court to see who could create lace as beautiful as a flower. While making the lace, she pricked her finger and it’s said the purple-red center of each tiny flower in Queen Anne’s Lace represents that droplet of her blood. Others believe that the flower is named after her great grandmother, Anne of Denmark, and others insist it must be for St. Anne, the patron saint of lacemakers.
Above is a photo of our other Q flower today, another lovely wildflower – Quaker Ladies.
This small perennial grows to be about 3-6 inches tall, is part of the Madder family, and is also known as bluet. It’s suggested that the name Quaker Ladies came about because the flower shape is similar to hats once worn by Quaker women; or perhaps because the pale blue color was similar to the color fabric of their dresses.
The Queen and the Quakers – sounds like a most interesting story doesn’t it? They certainly are photogenic.