Species profile: Queen Anne’s Lace

I first learned of Queen Anne’s Lace in my undergraduate plant systematic and evolution class.  I only recently discovered its status as an invasive species, and judging by its prevalence on the sides of highways, I can understand why!
Queen Anne's Lace umbel (Photo credit: USDA Plants)

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.

Wild carrot sightings map (by county). (Image credit: EDDMapS. 2011. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at http://www.eddmaps.org/; last accessed August 19, 2011)

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!


A self-proclaimed modern day nomad, I was born in the Philippines, grew up in southern California—lived all over really—and now I do research as a graduate student in Indiana and the Pacific Northwest. Professionally speaking, my current area of focus is speciation and ecological genetics and genomics, and a common theme in my various projects over the years is evolution in agricultural systems. As a recipient of a GLOBES—an interdisciplinary program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Traineeship grant (IGERT) —fellowship, I have received training which has better enabled me to view and ponder topics without my science hat on. I take great joy in eating, cooking, and experiencing nature through various activities. I love to travel and anticipate many local and international invasivore field trips! Though my research interests do not directly involve the study of invasive species, I have had my fair share of negative encounters with environmentally noxious organisms in the midst of doing field research. I carry around a machete with which to combat my gnarly “Himalayan” foes, and my machete and I have raised more than a few eyebrows. Apart from my personal vendetta against these deliciously juicy pests, I feel that there are great advantages to linking our awareness of the natural world to our culture, and Invasivore is an avenue to do just that. I feel that an increase in general knowledge of invasive species will be of great benefit to the field of invasive species and conservation biology. Knowledge and awareness will lead to action, and action will lead to results!

3 thoughts on “Species profile: Queen Anne’s Lace

  • August 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    It is my belief that Queen Anne’s Lace does have a purple/red spot in the center.

  • August 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for pointing out that error, Ce Ce. We’ve corrected the post.

    Queen Anne’s Lace does have a purple spot in the center of the flowers- legend has it that this spot is a drop of blood from Queen Anne herself.

  • August 5, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Be cautious, as daucus carota is a very effective abortive for pregnant women and has been used as a midwife’s herb for millennia. Pregnant women (who want to stay pregnant) should not consume particularly the seeds of this plant.


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