Queen Anne's Lace is delicate and lovely, and one can imagine that Queen Anne might have carefully crafted the flowerhead from thread with the intention of creating a decorative doily. In fact, the story goes that the single dark reddish flower often found right in the center of a white QAL flower is a single drop of blood from where Queen Anne pricked her finger while making the lace.
This beautiful wildflower is wild carrot, Daucus carota, the mother of the sweet orange root vegetable everyone knows. I don't recommend trying to wildcraft the root, though. This is a biennial, which means she only lives two years, and the second year is the year she sends up a stalk and flowers. By that time, the root is pithy. The more edible roots are those of the first year plant, but because she doesn't have the telltale signs for positive identification the first year (the tall flower stalk, the hairy stems, etc.), please don't do anything so foolhardy as to wildcraft first year wild carrots. There are several carrot family member plants that are poisonous, and some are DEADLY. The tiny little roots of QAL are not worth risking death.
Instead, eat the flowers and leaves, which have a delicate carrot flavor. The leaves, flowers and seeds of QAL have a long history of use as herbal medicine, treating digestive disorders as well as liver, kidney and bladder issues. The seeds have been used as a natural birth control and to terminate pregnancy, so don't ingest the seeds while pregnant or attempting to conceive.
Our favorite uses for Queen Anne's Lace is to add the flowers to salads, cut flowers for the table, and make delicious Queen Anne's Lace Jelly (recipe below).
If you have QAL growing in your yard, you will want to be sure to remove the seed heads when they form, or she will take over your yard. QAL is invasive and can displace native species, which we don't want.
Did you know that carrot seed essential oil is made from QAL? :)
Has a delicious light floral taste.
(from the book Gatherings from the Good Earth by Twila Fairbanks)
Note: First identify Queen Anne’s Lace correctly. I normally collect by the end of June in my area. Read all instructions first before gathering the blooms to make the jelly so all supplies are on hand.
To make infusion for jelly:
2 packed cups of heads (approximately 20 heads of fresh blooms, not older blooms)
4 c. almost boiling water
I use a half gallon jar for the heads and pour the hot water over, punching down and stirring with a wood spoon. Cover with lid. Let set to steep and cool down 4 hours. Strain two times with super fine small strainer and cotton cloth, being careful not to disrupt the sediment (dirt etc.) in bottom of jar. Leave behind about ¼ c. of sediment if present. Toss the wilted heads in compost.
Have 6 - 4 oz. jelly jars with 2- piece lids sterilized and ready or 8 -2 oz. Jars, which are a smaller size and great for giving away. Set jars on a cookie sheet with sides lined with clean towel.
To make jelly:
3 cups strained infusion
2 T. lemon juice (from a fresh lemon – not bottled)
1 pkg. Sure Jell powdered fruit pectin
Put all in a large stainless steel pan, stir and bring to a rolling boil.
Add 4 c. sugar and boil 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. If any foam on top, skim off with large metal spoon. Ladle into jars. Wipe rims of jars and put lids on and screw down tightly. Use hot water bath (covering jars with water and lid) for 10 minutes. Remove jars carefully and let rest 24 hours.
(my mom and son making it several years ago)
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Use CAUTION! Do not eat/use a wild plant unless you have 100% certainty it has been identified correctly. If you have a health condition, are taking pharma meds, or are pregnant/breastfeeding, be sure to research contraindications.The seeds of Queen Anne's Lace can affect hormones and have been used as a natural birth control method, as well as a way to terminate pregnancies.
Disclaimer: Every body is different, and any plant can cause an unpleasant reaction depending on the person. Start small and listen to your body – it is the ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. This information has been compiled from reputable herbalists and natural care professionals. It is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.This information is not intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Seek professional medical care for health concerns.