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Wild carrot, bishop's lace, or queen anne's lace (Daucus carota) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to temperate regions of Europe and southwest Asia; domesticated carrots are cultivars of a subspecies, Daucus carota subsp. sativus.
Additional recommended knowledge
Daucus carota is a variable biennial plant, usually growing up to 1 m tall and flowering from June to August. The umbels are claret-coloured or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3-7cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath; finally, as they turn to seed, they contract and become concave like a bird's nest. This has given the plant its British common or vernacular name, Bird's Nest. Very similar in appearance to the deadly Water Hemlock, it is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center.
Cultivation and uses
See carrot for the modern cultivated forms of the species.
Like the cultivated carrot, the wild carrot root is edible while young, but quickly becomes too woody to consume. A teaspoon of crushed seeds has long been used as a form of natural birth control – its use for this purpose was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use – it was found that wild carrot disrupts the implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. Chinese studies have also indicated that the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.
It is recommended that, as with all herbal remedies and wild food gathering, one should use appropriate caution. Extra caution should be used in this case, as it bears close resemblance to a dangerous species (see Water Hemlock). The leaves of the wild carrot can be a skin irritant, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.
Queen Anne's lace
Wild carrot was introduced and naturalised in North America, where it is often known as "Queen Anne's lace". It is so called because the flower resembles lace; the red flower in the center represents a blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle when she was making the lace. The function of the tiny red flower, coloured by anthocyanin, is to attract insects.
The USDA has listed it as a noxious weed , and it is considered a serious pest in pastures.