Daucus carota L.
Daucus carota L. ssp. carota
Daucus carota L. ssp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arcang.
Queen Anne’s lace, wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace
Queen Anne’s lace, or wild carrot, is native throughout North America. The carrots we eat are a subspecies of this plant, Daucus carota subsp. sativus.
Identification: Plants are up to 3' (91 cm) tall, smelling exactly like carrots. Foliage is relatively sparse, finely divided, looking like that of yarrow or carrots. Flowers appear in dense white umbrella-shaped or flat-topped flowerheads atop long spindly-looking hairy stems. Each flowerhead is composed of dozens of tiny 5-petaled flowers. As the flowers age, the flowerheads become convex as the centers sink, eventually folding up into a ball-shaped “nest” the protects the fruits developing within.
Here is a comparison of some similar-appearing species:
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|Plant||3-6' (91-182 cm) in height. Extremely poisonous||Up to 3’ tall, with leaves so finely divided as to look featherlike, with “feathers” up to 9” long||Grows to 3’ in height. Plant smells like carrots.|
|Flowers||Small white flowers about ⅛" (3.2 mm) across occur in small separated groups, resembling little parasols. Each flower has 5 petals and 5 stamens. The “parasols” are arranged into umbrella-shaped flowerheads.||Densely packed clusters of tiny white flowers, flat-topped or umbrella-shaped. (Cultivars may be yellow, red, or many other colors.) Flowers have 4-6 petals; each petal has three lobes.||Pale pink before opening. When open, forms an umbrella-shaped flower cluster up to 3” across, composed of tiny 5-petaled flowers.|
|Leaves||Compound leaves are deeply divided and subdivided.|
|Stem||Stems are spotted or striped with purple.||Fine hairs on stems and leaves.|
|Habitats||Meadows, fields, nearly anywhere there is full or partial sun|
Edibility: Wild carrot roots are edible when young, before they become woody, but because this plant is easily confused with the extremely poisonous spotted water hemlock, it is unsafe to consume this plant. Leaves can cause phytophotodermatitis.
Daucus carota at the Bugwood Wiki
Daucus carota on Missouriplants.com
Daucus carota on islandcreekes.fcps.edu
Daucus carota at Illinois Wildflowers
Daucus carota on Wikipedia
Daucus carota on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Daucus carota on hort.purdue.edu
Daucus carota on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide
Daucus carota from the Jepson Manual
Daucus carota description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.