ORRIN MORRIS: Use Queen Anne's lace for a variety of children's activities

QUEEN ANNE’S LACE Daucus carota

QUEEN ANNE’S LACE Daucus carota

As a nation, we honor mothers this Sunday.

Proverbs 31:28-30 focusses on the essence of this celebration. “Her children arise up, and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareeth the Lord, she shall be praised” (KJV).


Daucus carota

This wildflower is a tough and determined plant. Even in deepest drought this wildflower blesses us with its umbrella blooms. When there are periodic rains, it is likely to be a prolific bloomer through August.

Queen Anne’s lace is also called wild carrot. It was imported in colonial days and quickly spread from coast to coast, probably more rapidly than the European settlers.

This attractive plant will grow in places that all other wildflowers disdain. Sometimes the mass of tiny white flowers appear closely knit as a single “blossom” forming a round table. At other times it takes the shape of an umbrella.

When examined carefully, one discovers the head is composed of many small 1/8-inch flowers. Each flower is on a separate branch emerging from the same place at the end of the tall stem. On top of the blossom head, one can find a purple center flower.

Several sources believe that the garden variety of carrot (daucus carota sativa) is a cultivated version of wild carrot. The garden variety may have been developed in Holland to honor the Royal House of Orange (16th century). The Queen Anne’s lace root is edible when harvested in its early development but becomes a woody white root as it reaches deep into the soil in search of water.

The wild carrot seems to have picked up the name Queen Anne’s lace during the reign of its namesake (1702-1714). However, the name wild carrot predates her reign and seems to be so dubbed because the foliage is similar to the cultivated variety.

Queen Anne’s lace is a biennial; that is, it takes two years to bloom. When the flower head fades the branches curl inward with a seed developing where every flower bloomed. As fall arrives, all of those seeds dry and spread. The following spring the seeds germinate, forming basal leaves where the stem will arise a year later.

During the first year the plant sends down its “carrot” and prepares for the next year. Early this first year is the time that the root may be eaten.

Further, the Queen Anne’s lace is for the children. The blossoms absorb moisture through the stems. The color of the blooms can be changed to red, blue, yellow or any color by placing the cut flowers in a glass of water in which a fair concentration of food coloring has been added. Try it. My mother showed me that way back when I was a child.

Finally, another fascinating aspect of Queen Anne’s lace is to use it as a stencil. Find a bloom that is somewhat flat. Turn it upside down on a sheet of blue construction paper, then spray it lightly with white paint. When you lift the bloom off the paper you have a delicate lacy image. If the spray paint you have is another color, try the same process on white paper.

The extraordinary abundance and versatility of this wildflower reminds me of the benediction the Apostle Paul gave in Ephesians, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (3:20-21).

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center Street in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.