flowers a-z: q is for queen anne’s lace

Welcome back, summer flower lovers! As you might imagine, some letters of the floral alphabet are easier than others. Like so many Scrabble players, when faced with a “q,” things can get a little dicey. Lucky for us, the gorgeous Queen Anne’s Lace is right in the pocket of the season and happens to be rather lovely. So today, “q” is for Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota, if we are getting Latin and technical).

Queen Anne’s Lace is essentially grown all over the world, although it is native to temperate regions in Europe and Asia. In the United States, you might be as likely to find it cheerfully growing on the side of a freeway as you are in a formal English garden. A perennial favorite with flower consumers who feel it epitomizes the “wildflower” look, Queen Anne’s Lace is actually a form of wild carrot root (and if you cut the stem, you may notice that it has an earthy, carrot-like smell). As with so many flowers and plants, Queen Anne’s Lace was used by ancient Greeks and in Chinese culture for medicinal purposes. The crushed seeds from the flower were thought to be an effective form of birth control. Modern studies have indicated that the seeds do appear to interfere with both progesterone synthesis and ovum implantation. The use of Queen Anne’s Lace comes with heavy warnings for practitioners — the flower looks almost identical to a highly toxic little flower called hemlock!

Queen Anne’s Lace is ideal for casual summer decorating. As seen above, you can simply gather a few stems into wine bottles and have yourself a darling element to accompany dinner, a bedside table or a window sill. But here at Flowers A–Z, we like to kick it up a notch. Stay with me after the jump for two arrangement ideas — one simple and one requiring just a bit more effort. — Sarah

Ah, the classic Ball jar (also known as a mason jar). What farm table would be complete without a Ball jar stuffed with blooms that look “just gathered” from a field? Whether you have a summer home in the Hamptons or a studio apartment where you have to vault over the bed to get to the kitchenette, Queen Anne’s Lace in a mason jar should be your go-to.

And, there it is. Be sure to clean the stems of the blooms that will fall below the water line. Especially in a clear vase, you want to make sure the water is fresh and transparent and that there is no floating foliage. A gorgeous spray of Queen Anne’s Lace looks simply perfect when paired with a bright wildflower like cosmos. I like to cluster the cosmos throughout the sea of Queen Anne’s Lace.


Now for an arrangement with a little more heft. I selected a mustard ceramic bowl with a wide mouth; I just love the happy color of this container and will choose other vivid colors to play off the yellow. The plan is to include a variety of blooms to fill the generous space in the vessel.

I began here with some soft dusty miller. I love the gray color with the yellow and feel the stiff nature of the stems will create a nice grid structure for our arrangement. I believe the key to easy floral design is establishing a solid structure into which you can place any flower.

Once you have established your dusty miller structure, you can add any other wildflowers that appeal to you. Here, I used cosmos, zinnia, veronica, and some button-like echinacea pods. The great thing about working with Queen Anne’s Lace is that it fills in quite nicely. You can be very budget conscious and only use a select few “face” flowers, while the Queen Anne’s Lace does the remaining royal work.

Experiment by starting with masses of Queen Anne’s Lace only and then adding the other flowers as accents versus adding it at the end. You may find it easier to place blooms inside the framework of lace!

The fragile snowflake look of the Queen Anne’s Lace softens the sharp lines of the zinnia and veronica.

Whether you choose a carefree approach of simply plunking your flowers in a glass jar or spend a little time crafting a masterpiece, enjoy the summer floral season. Wildflowers are especially fabulous this time of year. Join me back here in two weeks when “r” will be for . . .

  1. Amanda says:

    I love queen anne’s lace! So delicate and pretty.

    1. Lisa says:

      PLEASE!….someone help me recall the other name used for Queen Anne’s Lace (and no, not Wild Carrot, chiggers or something Plague). Wracking my brains trying to remember!~thanks

      1. Grace Bonney says:


        I’ve heard it called Cow Parsley sometimes?


        1. Sharon says:

          There are a few species called “Queen Anne’s lace,” and it can easily be mistaken for poisonous, even deadly, look-alikes. The “real” Queen Anne’s lace” is Daucus carota,” or wild carrot. The root is edible, but I have yet to be tempted to try it.

          “Cow parsely” likewise is applied to more than one species. Confusing.

          This website has a comparison chart for plants similar to QAL:

  2. Mai says:

    Beautiful. I love the idea of using the bottles/jars as a vase.

  3. Kerry says:

    I love these Flowers A-Z posts! I’m learning a lot about flowers and getting some great ideas on how to display them! Once you get to Z, you should make a blog book out of them – I’d purchase one!

  4. So THAT’S what they’re called!!! I had no idea! They grew in my backyard and I had taken some photos of them never knowing what they’re called! Thank you so much :)

  5. Susan says:

    So delicate and lovely!

  6. Melissa says:

    When I was little and we were at the beach, we would put queen anne’s lace in jars with a little food coloring – I loved watching it slowly, over a couple days, turn the flower whatever color. :) Fun for kids!

  7. This makes me remember William Carlos William’s wonderful poem, “Queen Annes’ Lace”:

    Her body is not so white as
    anemone petals nor so smooth – nor
    so remote a thing. It is a field
    of the wild carrot taking
    the field by force; the grass
    does not raise above it. . . .

    . . . the whole field is a
    white desire, empty, a single stem,
    a cluster, flower by flower,
    a pious wish to whiteness gone over–
    or nothing.

  8. Sarah says:

    @Melissa – YES! I didn’t mention that, much like carnations, you can dye Queen Anne’s Lace. I have definitely seen this done at 4th of July when blue or red food coloring and the “firework-like” shape of Queen Anne’s Lace make a kitsch combination.

  9. Hannah says:

    we’re already on the letter “Q”?!?! there needs to be more letters in the alphabet for this segment!

  10. Connie says:

    Everytime I see Queens Anne’s lace I’m reminded of long walks through the woods when I was younger! Thank you for the memories and for sharing!

  11. Rebecca says:

    Love Queen Anne’s Lace, the morning of my wedding my best friend and I drove along country roads in Kentucky gathering buckets of it for our bouquets and centerpieces.

  12. Raquel says:

    Love love love Queen Anne’s Lace! Just used it in the centerpieces for our wedding in June, they looked lovely! It just adds a little something extra. :)

  13. sue says:

    I have lots growing by my garage where I neglected to weed whack earlier this summer. I’m off to go cut some right now!

  14. Jill says:

    Pretty stuff….I added some to a bouquet of fragrant beach roses the other day, the deep pink roses and Queen Anne’s Lace are gorgeous together!

  15. I’ve always LOVED the look of queen anne’s lace, it’s so delicate!

  16. Logan says:

    I just wanted to add, that Queen Anne’s Lace is also an invasive species and not a native to the America’s. While to it’s some it’s just a pretty flower, it’s introduction to the continental US has proven detrimental the preservation of natural wildlife habitats, especially the few remaining tall grass prairies we have in the north central region of the United States. It’s always important to note the affects that embracing non-native species can have on our own flora and fauna. Though I have to admit, it is kinda pretty.

  17. jess says:

    When I was a little girl I lived on a country road where Queen Anne’s Lace grew everywhere. I would pick it almost daily and give it to my mom as a gift. She would lovingly find a new pickle jar or a Ball jar and fill it with the flowers. Needless to say we always a tonne of Queen Anne’s lace in our house. It’s still one of my favourite flower. Thank you for this trip down memory lane.

  18. Sarah says:

    just lovely! i saw a huge patch of this growing on the side of the road this morning and was so tempted to stop and pick them! great timing on the post:)

  19. If you want Q.A.L. in the garden, sow Bishop’s Weed or False Q.A.L. (Ammi majus) seeds in the spring or fall. It looks like Q.A.L., but (according to The Washington Post garden writer) is not invasive or weedy. However, it may cause some mild dermatitis in some people.

  20. amy says:

    I’ve been known to pull over to the side of the road and go tramping through the tall (probably tick-infested) grass to harvest some Queen Anne’s Lace. When I worked as an environmental educator we’d often show the kids how the root looks and smells like carrot–which is why this is one of the plants I always remember the Latin name for. And my kids & I have dyed it colors (and will again this year). I just inherited some lovely small crackle glass vases that are in need of some Queen Anne’s Lace to fill them.

  21. Lucy Skye says:

    lovely post…I too would love to see an A-Z blog book (or-dare I say?-coffee-table book?) when we reach the end of the garden lane.
    And please be sure to include the comments. The memories & reminiscences add texture & community to the floral stories.

  22. M says:

    Though pretty, it is very very invasive. Beware!

  23. I just love Queen Anne’s Lace. The name is lovely, the flowers are so different, and as a herbalist I cherish its long history of use as a ‘woman’s friend’, though I haven’t used it for this purpose myself. *wink*

    You are quite right to warn of its resemblance to the other beautiful, but deadly plant Hemlock. As a young girl, I had a brush with death with Hemlock. My short story:

    A friend of my grandmothers’ was a retired florist, and pointed out this lovely plant growing along a family cabin in the Cariboo Chilcotin in British Columbia. She said it was Queen Anne’s lace, and that you could chew on the aromatic seeds for a nice little perfumed-nibble. I did this many times during my childhood summers spent there until one day I actually consulted a Guide Book about my beloved plant. It actually turned out to be Water Hemlock. So poisonous that even a little bit of the white sap on your finger can kill you, in a most agonizing fashion.

    To this day, I have no idea how I survived! This plant should have killed me many times over, and so I entreat your readers: KNOW what you are picking! A little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous. *wink*

    Warmly, Heidi

  24. Valerie says:

    Those are such darling little displays of the flowers!

  25. I’ve always wondered what this flower was called… thank you! I see it all the time & it’s beautiful each time.

  26. Amy says:

    Beautiful! Though I’m sure they’re not known for their scent, I always thought (and loved) that Q.A.L. smells like corn chips to me! I love unusually scented plants/flowers :-)

  27. Very pretty summer arrangement you have made. I have always loved flowers even the one that others consider weeds like Queen Anne’s Lace. I like wild chicory too! I sometimes mix those 2 flowers with orange day lilies and wild daisies for a summery wild flower arrangement, they look especially nice in a vintage aqua Ball jar!

  28. Ann says:

    Oh, I love QAL, but I’ve never had any luck picking it. It’s also covered in tiny little bugs that crawl out of the flowers! Does anyone have this problem/ know how to solve it? I’ve been resigned to just looking at it on the roadside.

  29. Sherry Howard says:

    Can I grow QAL at my home in Jacksonville, FL? I’m visiting Western NY, and see it her daily; so beautiful.

  30. linda says:

    it is beautiful, but i got blisters all over my face from the sap. you need just the right ingredients: sap and then sun. Was terrible.

  31. Janet McK says:

    I picked some for a book club party recently, but many seemed to wilt almost instantly. Any tips for keeping them fresh?

  32. Shirley Ridnour says:

    I’ve seen a picture of greenish blue and very light bluish purple. Are these queen ann’s lace blossoms ?

  33. Frankie Wells says:

    My QAL seeds did not come up. It was warm enough and I live about 100 miles from the gulf So disappointed


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