Monday, July 5, 2010

Queen Annes Lace

The Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) or Queen Annes Lace is one of many umbelliferous plants to be found growing around the world. Although the species name for this ferny plant with the elegant, white lacy flowers is "Daucus carota", the same one used for cultivated carrots it is not the same plant. As a member of the carrot family it has a long taproot and lacy leaves. Dig up and crush a Wild Carrot root and you will find that it smells just like a carrot. I like the legend better...

The American legend says that Anne of Denmark (1574-1619), queen consort of King James I, was an expert lace-maker. The central flower of the carrot's umbel is reddish-purple. This odd flower was placed upon the umbel for the time Anne pricked her finger and a drop of blood stained the lace. According to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary the name Queen Anne's lace did not appear in print until 1895, two hundred seventy-six years after Anne's death.

Another says:
Queen Anne’s Lace is said to have been named after Queen Anne of England, an expert lace maker. English legend tells us that Queen Anne challenged the ladies of the court to a contest to see who could produce a pattern of lace as lovely as the flower of this plant. No one could rival the queen's handiwork. She however, pricked her finger with a needle and a single drop of blood fell into the lace, that is said to be the dark purple floret in the center of the flower.



There are several anecdotes as to why the Carrot Flower is named the Queen Annes Lace.

1. Queen Anne's Lace: so called because one tiny purplish floret in the centre is the queen. The white florets make up her lace collar.

2. The reddish flower at the center of this herb is also referred to as a drop of blood from Queen Anne (1655-1714) who pricked her finger while making lace, drawing a drop of blood.

3. English botanist Geoffrey Grigson suggests that the name of the plant comes not from a Queen of England but from Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of lacemakers.

4. The origin of the name is reputed to be based upon an English legend. Supposedly, when the future Queen Anne arrived from Denmark to became the queen of King James I of England, wild carrot was still a novelty in the royal gardens. The legend states that Queen Anne challenged the ladies in waiting to a contest to see who could produce a pattern of lace as fine and lovely as the flower of the wild carrot. The ladies knew that no one could rival the queen's handiwork so it became a triumph for Anne.

5. One fable associated with the name of this plant describes the occasion of Queen Anne of England pricking her finger while working on lace, staining the lace with blood. If you look closely, you'll notice that each large "flower" has many small white florets with a red/purple dot in the middle.

6. Queen Anne's Lace is also known as Mother Die, because if you brought it into your house, according to superstition, your mother would die.

7. The white clusters apparently reminded the British of Queen Anne's lace headdress.



Here's a poem. By Mary Leslie Newton

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has washed her lace
(She chose a summer's day)
And hung it in a grassy place
To whiten, if it may.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has left it there,
And slept the dewy night;
Then waked, to find the sunshine fair,
And all the meadows white.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, is dead and gone
(She died a summer's day),
But left her lace to whiten in
Each weed-entangled way!

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