Tuesday, June 18, 2013



Also known as wild carrot, bird's nest root and bee's nest plant.

Parts used:  whole plant

Meridians/Organs affected:  kidneys, female reproductive, intestines, bladder, stomach

Properties:  stimulant, diuretic, stomachic, deobstruent, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, hypotensive

Queen Anne's Lace is a tall, slender plant with fern-like leaves an lace-like white flowers that form a flat topped umbel.  They flower from June to September and are self pollinating although they can be insect pollinated as well.  About one in every four plants has a single deep purple flower in the center of the flower cluster referred to as the 'fairy's roost' (don't ask me why as I do not know).  When Queen Anne's Lace goes to seed, the flowers kind of close up into what would resemble a concave bird's nest (no doubt where it got one of it's other names).  The seeds are covered with small barbs that make it more easily dispersed by the animals.  A single plant can produce 4,000 seeds which is why it is easy to see how it can self-propagate with ease.  It can be found in grasslands, meadows, dumps, rock outcroppings, vacant lots, stone walls, railroad tracks that are out of the way and roadsides.  It grows about 2-4 feet in height while its poisonous look alike (hemlock-pictured below) gets much taller (often from 5-8 feet high).  Queen Anne's Lace is also covered in very fine hairs where hemlock is not. 

Originating in North Africa and Eurasia, this plant now can be found in most temperate climates throughout the world.  The seeds of this herb have been used for many years as a "morning-after" contraceptive in European countries.  It has also been used in India to reduce female fertility.  Even Dioscorides wrote of its anti-fertility properties.  The leaf tea also has been used for bladder and kidney stone and often will work when other things do not.  (However, as this plant is a uterus stimulant, please do not take when pregnant and have kidney or bladder stones at the same time...there are better options for pregnant women).  In the same respect, it is used to kill worms and expel them from the system.
There is some debate over Queen Anne's Lace as to whether or not it is related to the domestic garden carrot.  According to Dr. Christopher, the only similarities they share are the leaf and the carrot like scent (which can be gotten by scraping one's nail on the stem/stalk of the plant).  Other sources say that Queen Anne's Lace is the ancient species and the ancestral parent to the current domestic variety.  Yet others say that they are related distantly and can be used interchangeably.  So...my advice would be to use your own judgment.  Get to know the plant well before deciding to use it, often the plants will tell you plenty if you take the time to observe them.
This plant is a biennial.  The first year the fern-like leaves appear, the second year the stalk with the umbel flower clusters form.  Both the leaves and the seeds can be dried and used as seasoning or made into tea.  (Again, not for use when pregnant).  The leaves are best gathered the first year they appear while the seeds are best gathered in the autumn of the second year.  Both the leaves and the seeds are great carminatives helping with stomach issues and flatulence.  The seeds have also been used to decongest the liver and were even considered to be a drug at one point by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (from 1820-1882).  Extracts of the whole plant have been used for cystitis and urinary stones.  The seeds have been shown to help with menstrual isses and to stimulate the uterus.
The root tea has been found to be diuretic in nature and beneficial for gout.  The leaves contain components that interact with the pituitary (the master gland in the body), thus increasing the production of sex hormones.  Wild carrot is a natural antacid (as are domestic carrots) and as such is an interesting alternative for heartburn and gastritis.
Whatever you choose to do with this plant...be sure it is Queen Anne's Lace and not Hemlock as hemlock will kill you in a matter of days. 

As is customary with my posts I am including some links regarding Queen Anne's Lace that you might find interesting.  Use them as you see fit.




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