PARSLEY FAMILY - Umbelliferae: Wild Carrot; Queen Anne's Lace; Bird's-nest
Flowers--Small, of unequal sizes (polygamous), white, rarely pinkish gray, 5-parted, in a compound, flat, circular, umbel, the central floret often dark crimson; the umbels very concave in fruit. An involucre of narrow, pinnately cut bracts. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, with stiff hairs; from a deep, fleshy, conic root. Leaves: Cut into fine, fringy divisions; upper ones smaller and less dissected.
Preferred Habitat--Waste lands, fields, roadsides.
Distribution--Eastern half of United States and Canada. Europe and Asia.
A pest to farmers, a joy to the flower-lover, and a welcome signal for refreshment to hosts of flies, beetles, bees, and wasps, especially to the paper-nest builders, the sprangly wild carrot lifts its fringy foliage and exquisite lacy blossoms above the dry soil of three continents. From Europe it has come to spread its delicate wheels over our summer landscape, until whole fields are whitened by them east of the Mississippi. Having proved fittest in the struggle for survival in the fiercer competition of plants in the over-cultivated Old World, it takes its course of empire westward year by year, finding most favorable conditions for colonizing in our vast, uncultivated area; and the less aggressive, native occupants of our soil are only too readily crowded out. Would that the advocates of unrestricted immigration of foreign peasants studied the parallel examples among floral invaders!
Still another fiction is that the cultivated carrot, introduced to England by the Dutch in Queen Elizabeth's reign, was derived from this wild species. Miller, the celebrated English botanist and gardener, among many others, has disproved this statement by utterly failing again and again to produce an edible vegetable from this wild root. When cultivation of the garden carrot lapses for a few generations, it reverts to the ancestral type--a species quite distinct from Daucus Carota.