Queen Anne’s Lace flower in full bloom. Note purple, almost black flower, in center of umbel

When I first learned to identify wild carrot, or Daucus carota, I was eagerly followed its name like a blinking road sign down to the earth. I dug up its root, letting its earthy mint scent wash over my nose. I gently patted the sand from the white carrot pinched delicately between my fingers, nipped off the leaves, and popped the little treat in my mouth. Yum. Domestic carrots often lack the richness of flavor of their wild ancestor, though make up for it, I suppose, in size.

Side view, showing umbel-ness of inflorescence. All flowers originate from single point

I harvested a bunch of the little carrots that summer, but somehow spent surprisingly little time with the plant. It wasn’t until the following summer, when I got bees, that I really paid much attention to the above ground part of the plant. I noticed my bees particular zeal for the flat splay of delicate white flowers. Each umbel (a clumb of short-stalked flowers all emerging from a central point) is marked centrally with a deep purple whose purpose, I read, is to guide bees and other pollinators in. More than guide the insect to the inflorescence as a whole, it guides the insect towards the center of the umbel, ensuring that it will come in contact with as many florets as possible before visiting the next plant.

This Queen Anne’s Lace, oddly enough, doesn’t have the sterile central flower

The mythology of the plant’s other name, Queen Anne’s Lace, refers to one of several different Queen Annes, who pricked herself while making her lace. A lone drop of blood fell forth from her fingers, tarnishing the otherwise perfect lace. One odd thing about the sanguine flower is that it is sterile, a sacrificial flower to draw in pollinators! Felix, a kiddo in our Whittler’s Wharf camp at Crow’s Path brought me the above specimen. As we were looking at the flowers I noticed that one of the clusters actually had a second sterile purple flower at the margin of the umbel in addition to the one located at the center (this is visible as a dark, upside down heart on the top left of the above image).

This Queen Anne’s Lace, oddly enough, doesn’t have the sterile central flower

 

And just a bonus shot showing a developing inflorescence

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