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Queen Anne's favorite carrot
Wild Carrot a.k.a. Queen Anne’s Lace
Botanical name: Daucus carota
Parts: Roots, seeds
"The Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) or Queen Annes Lace is one of many umbelliferous plants to be found growing around the world. Although the species name for this ferny plant with the elegant, white lacy flowers is "Daucus carota", the same one used for cultivated carrots it is not the same plant. As a member of the carrot family it has a long taproot and lacy leaves. Dig up and crush a Wild Carrot root and you will find that it smells just like a carrot with a white root." http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/queen.html
The white taproot is edible before the flower stalk appears. Collect from fall to early spring when the plant stores food underground in it’s root. They taste stronger and are chewier, but are great to cook with (cakes, soups etc.) Tender young leaves are edible in the early spring and fall, use sparingly, it has strong flavor. The flowers can be sautéed and eaten. The seeds can be collected in early fall and used as a seasoning or in teas.
When reading field guides, you'll often see wild carrot talked about with a big caution saying don't confuse it with poison hemlock which looks similar.
Yes, they do look kinda similar. But one simple thing can keep you on the healthy path quickly. JUST SMELL IT.
Queen Anne's Wild Carrot is just that - a wild CARROT. It's leaves look like carrot leaves, it's flower looks like a carrot flower (that is if you've ever seen a carrot flower - it's a biennial so it takes a second year plant to have a flower) but most importantly - WILD CARROT SMELLS LIKE A CARROT! If you've ever cut the top leaves off a carrot (like the bunched kind you can buy in the store) you have smelled carrot leaves. It's a very distinctive smell.
Poison hemlock does not smell like a carrot.
So, before you go harvesting wild carrots to munch, just be sure you know what a carrot leaf should smell like. Then crush the leaf of a prospective wild carrot between your fingers, and smell it.
There's other details you can watch for that will take a more careful eye, you should know those too. Here's a site you can go to to learn more about poison hemlock. Right click on it to open in a new tab or window. There's also some tasty recipes posted there. http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/queen.html