Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as Cow parsley, is a member of the umbelliferae or carrot family. It grows along verges whether hedgerows, riversides or pathways and flowers in the months of April to June. It is a particularly vigorous member of the carrot family and flowers earlier than many of its siblings. It grows to around one foot and has delicate stems and more flowers per head than for example Hemlock or Fool’s Parsley, which are best avoided since toxic to humans. Queen Anne’s Lace is edible however, if foraged with care and certainty, and can be used as chervil is, in cooking and as a salad crop. The seeds are also tasty.
The etymology of Queen Anne’s Lace name derives from its lacey appearance and most notably the small dark dot at the centre of the foamy flower head, thought to represent the blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle when the queen was making lace. The dark droplet also attracts pollinating insects, fooling them in to thinking they are landing on to a particularly tasty flower head! It is particularly popular for a number of bees, butterflies (notably the Swallowtail) and hummingbird moths.