bounty of the vacant lot – queen anne’s lace

i actually hate the term vacant lots, as it seems so anthropocentric.  i like open space, or green space or something like that.  just because we don’t have a use for the lots doesn’t mean they don’t have value, or just because we don’t see the direct connection doesn’t mean that it doesn’t benefit us.  here is a nice shoot of one “vacant lot”

vacant lot?

doesn’t look so vacant to me, looks like it’s vibrant and full of life especially queen anne’s lace, which is what this post is all about – the value of queen anne’s lace.

let’s start with the botanical name daucus carota.  nothing too special there, now let’s look at the botanical name of a plant we tend to value more commonly; the carrot -daucus carota.  now there seems to be a bit of debate, some claiming that even though they have the exact same name they are different plants.  i’m willing to claim that one is a cultivated strain, but i’ve never know a taxonomist to overlook something like naming two different species the same thing.  the fact is queen anne’s lace will readily cross with are carrot, and you have to careful of this when saving seeds, that seems like a pretty positive affirmation that they are likely the same thing.

queen anne’s lace, like the carrot is plenty edible, and can be quite tasty.  most folks that have had queen anne’s lace root say it tastes like wood, and i’m not surprised.  most folks identify queen anne’s lace by the flowers, and by the time that flowers form the queen anne’s lace is in its second year.  just like the carrot, queen anne’s lace is a biennial.  that means that it’s life cycle takes 2 years.  in order to get though the winter it stores up a bunch of sugar, this acts as fuel for it the next year, but it also acts as a sort of antifreeze, protecting and helping it make it though the winter.  this is why late fall carrots, and winter carrots taste so good.  the next year it turns all that sugar into starch, shoots up a flower stock and turns woody, so of course the queen anne’s lace most folks eat is terrible.

queen anne’s lace is also a great bee forage, as well as a source of food for beneficial insects.  it’s deep roots are able to penetrate soils and extract nutrients, making them available to the next generation of plants.   and the seed have been used traditionally as a contraceptive.  and of course queen anne’s lace is famous for its ablity to take up dye and deposit it in its flowers.  you remember that from grade school don’t you?  you stick the queen anne’s lace in some dye and come back the next day and it’s turned that color.  pretty cool, and still cool now.

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