Wild Carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace, Birds nest.
Root – Off white and carrot shaped, it is edible when young but soon becomes too woody and tough to eat. Depending on growing conditions it can become quite forked. Smells strongly of carrots.
Stems – A stiff, solid stem.
Leaves – The leaves are tri-pinnate, finely divided, lacy and triangular in shape. The leaves are bristly and alternate. The upper side is smooth and the underside is covered in hairs.
Flowers – The flowers are small and dull white, clustered in flat, dense umbels. The umbels are terminal and approximately 8–10 cm wide. They may be pink in bud and may have a reddish or purplish flower in the centre of the umbel. The red flower attracts insects.
Seeds – The lower bracts are three-forked, which distinguishes the plant from other white-flowered umbelliferae species.
The dried umbels detach from the plant and become tumbleweeds.
The seeds themselves are oval, flattened and covered with hooked spines.
Kingdom – Plantae
Order – Apilaes
Family – Apiaceae
Genus – Daucus
The leaves contain chemicals that can cause phytophotodermatitis, this occurs when the sap touches your skin and is then exposed to sunlight or UV rays. This causes irritation and blistering.
No part of this plant should be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
COULD BE CONFUSED WITH
Other members of the umbellifer family such as deadly hemlock, so great care must be taken when foraging for this plant.
Wild Carrot is easiest to identify when it is in flower so it is best to observe it then and return the following year.
RANGE AND DISTRIBUTION
Thought to originate in Afghanistan before spreading to Europe, it is the ancestor of our cultivated carrots. The familiar orange carrot was first developed in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
Chalk grasslands, coastal sites and waste ground. Less common inland.
The roots, even when young can be tough so it is best to use them as a flavouring. For example boil them in a stock and then discard before consuming.
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
The flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and are lovely deep fried in a tempura batter.
The seeds have a very distinctive taste and can be added to breads and stews.