A wild relative of the common domesticated carrot, Queen Anne’s lace, otherwise known as wild carrot or Daucus carota L. exhibits many of the same characteristics such as lobed and deeply dissected leaves, flowers that form compound umbels, and a fleshy taproot, although wild carrots have a taproot that is considerably smaller and woodier than their domesticated counterparts. Like the previously profiled garlic mustard, wild carrots are biennial, which means an individual plant takes two years to complete its life cycle. They flower from May to October and grow weedily on roadsides and on any small patch of soil.
Wild carrots are native to Europe and Asia, and are believed to have been introduced along with the domesticated carrot about 250 years ago. Daucus carota has made it to almost all of the United States, is considered to be a noxious weed in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington, and classified as a weed in the United States due to its persistence in agricultural fields.
One important note for invasivores is that Queen Anne’s lace can be easily confused with the extremely poisonous poison hemlock (Conium masculatum L.) However, wild carrots can be differentiated from their deadly lookalikes by their hairy stems and shorter stature [with a reach of 1 meter (3 feet) or less compared to the nearly 3.3 meter (10 feet) height of poison hemlock]. Another dangerous lookalike is the wild parsinp, and more information about those invaders can be found here. Remember never to eat anything if you are not 100% confident in its identification!
We picked a bunch on our Invasivore.org field trip to Love Creek County Park, and soon we’ll see if my attempt at wild carrot cake was successful!