Queen Anne’s Lace aka ‘wild carrot’ is a tasty treat for house rabbits and other small pets. In addition to being delicious to small pets, Queen Anne's Lace is high in vitamin A. The wild ancestor of the garden carrot, Queen Anne's Lace has a long taproot just like carrots, and if you pull up the root and crush it, it smells just like carrots (as do the crushed leaves, only more subtly). All parts of the plant are edible, although rabbits tend to favor just the leaves and flowers.
Queen Anne's Lace does have a deadly lookalike, the poisonous Hemlock plant, which we do have here in Ohio. There are several simple methods to differentiate between Queen Anne’s Lace and poisonous hemlock and you must be sure to verify that what you have is Queen Anne’s Lace. If you find hemlock, pull it up immediately, bag it and dispose of it.
Queen Anne’s Lace has a flat umbrella-like arrangement of tiny white florets that compose the actual flower “head.” It sometimes (not always) has a very distinctive single, tiny purple flower in the very center. Deadly Hemlock can grow to be 3 feet or taller, while QAL grows to 2 feet or less. QAL leaves are fairly sparse while hemlock leaves are fuller and lusher. QAL grows singly while hemlock usually grows in a cluster (this author has seen single hemlock plants however). Poisonous hemlock sometimes (not always) has purple splotches or stripes on its stem.
Note the use of words like ‘sometimes’ and ‘not always’ and ‘usually’ in these last few identifiers. This is why it is best to use the fuzzy stem/bird’s nest identifiers for a positive, safe, identification. One of the best ways to identify Queen Anne’s Lace is to look for the fuzzy stem. Queen Anne’s Lace has fuzzy stems – some very fuzzy, some just a little fuzzy – while deadly hemlock has smooth stems. If you cannot see the fuzz, feel the stems for the fuzz.
A useful secondary identifier is the way the seeds of the Queen Anne’s Lace ripen – the flowers fold up and in on themselves like little bird’s nests, giving rise to the nickname ‘Bird’s Nest Flower’ for this plant.
Queen Anne's Lace is another ‘weed’ that, like purslane, will improve the microclimate of your soil when planted with other crops. Queen Anne's Lace has a long taproot which will draw moisture up from deep in the ground during drought conditions. Queen Anne's Lace will provide delicious 'wild carrot' greens for your bunny well into fall, and will reseed itself and return in the spring with no help from you!
As autumn winds down, forage for some Queen Anne's Lace for your house rabbit or other small pet.
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