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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Mowing Carrots

They are everywhere these days. Fields and ditches are covered with Queen Anne's lace, also known as wild carrot or bird's nest. 

 

Since we don't spray for insects or weeds, our lawn is sometimes green, though often variously coloured by weeds. This year, the wild carrot has its moment in the sun, sending forth its stems and blossoms. It's time to mow, again.

"I'm going out to mow the carrots," my husband says as he heads to the garage. Within the hour, not a stem remains. Before long though, they're back, determined to reach towards the sun. The plant which is so pretty in the fields and ditches, is frustrating in your lawn.

 

A closer look at the root system of the plant makes it easy to see why the plant devastates a lawn. 

 

It is difficult to pull this root out of the soil. Its wild carrot name comes from this root, the young plant tastes like carrot and the leaves resemble carrot leaves. 

 

As the plant matures however, the root becomes woody and inedible.

The flower is a circle of blooms from a collection of branches off a main stem, each branch full of individual blooms. 

 

The blooms appear as a unit, making a flat or slightly convex circular flower. 

This construction is a wonder in itself, but the purple or red non-reproductive flower in the middle of the central branch is a total surprise and a mystery. 

 

Legend has it Queen Anne pricked her finger while sewing lace. 

 

A single drop of blood fell on a lace flower, hence the name. 

 

As the blooming finishes, the flower head curls up in a nest-like structure which is curious also.

 

Inside this nest, the seeds are forming. How many billions of seeds will be carried on the breeze across this island this year?

Wild carrots are biennial plants, producing flowers every two years. We will have to wait for the flowery fruits of this year's growth until 2018. We may not have a lawn left at that time, though losing it to the beauty of this wildflower may be worth it.

 




25 comments:

  1. I much prefer your type of lawn. A few cornflowers and a bit of chickory would add yet more variety and of course insects. A poppy or two look good but you would have to disturb the ground to get the seeds to germinate properly.

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    1. PS> what are the blue flowers? I could look them up but if you know then it would save me the effort.

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    2. Judging by the leaves, it's cow vetch.

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  2. I think it's a beautiful wildflower/weed. It's similar to a couple of others, cow parsley (it doesn't have the pretty flower in the middle) and hemlock, which is poisonous. Sometimes someone will confuse hemlock with wild carrot and die from ingesting hemlock. That little flower is essential in identifying it. Thanks for the great post! :-)

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    1. The different coloured flower is not always present, but there are other ways to tell them apart. For example, the stem of wild carrot has hairs on it, hemlock doesn't. I don't think I'd risk eating it though!

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  3. WE have an abundance of them in our neck of the woods as well. They have not made it to the lawn, but Ihave to go out and cut the seeded heads, perhaps today.

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    1. Good idea if you don't want them in the lawn.

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  4. I have never seen the blood stain at the centre. I will have to look next year (or the year after). Thank you so much.
    And hooray for not spraying. I am always happy to meet other non-sprayers (with a very varied lawn).

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    1. Spraying bothers me. I wish our city would ban cosmetic spraying at least. They is no hope for a commercial ban in the fields.

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  5. I've never heard Queen Anne's Lace called wild carrot before! A new tidbit of info, thanks!

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  6. I have never heard Queen Anne's Lace called wild carrot either. And, I didn't know it was a weed. I've never had any in my beds/yard but I've always thought it was pretty. Hum. I learn something new every day.

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    1. I love it too. Not in the lawn though.

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  7. They're very nice along roadsides. I like the post flower, seed head stage. We are seeing quite a bit of yellow parsnip these days. Ugh.

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    1. Yellow parsnip is an invasive species here. We report it if we see it. I haven't seen any.

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  8. Lovely, but not a traditional lawn any more. :)

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    1. It doesn't look too bad yet but not much longer I fear.

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  9. Wow, thanks for the story of wild carrot. I knew its colloquial name was Quenn Anne's Lace, but never knew why. Love it.

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  10. I couldn't imagine what your blog was about from the title. Very interesting and much more colorful than a boring old green lawn !

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  11. The lawn is colourful at times and very dry this year from lack of rain. I struggled with the title, but then this one came to me. I hoped it would make people curious.

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  12. My sister, Ruth (the one who just visited us from Michigan), has Queen Anne's Lace growing all over the fields on their farm, Marie. But this is the first time I've read so much about it and how it grows...especially that one black blossom in the middle. OMG. Who knew!

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  13. Thousands of them in our meadow, but they haven't serioulsy invaded the lawn yet.

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