ISSUE 36  |  Minimalist Glamour

Field Guide: Queen Anne’s Lace

September 08, 2014 6:30 PM

BY Amanda Gutterman

Queen Anne’s Lace; Daucus carota: “The Delicate Dictator”

Named after Queen Anne of England–whether it was the Tudor Anne or the Stuart Anne is still up for debate–Queen Anne’s Lace was scrappy from the beginning, with a bit of a thirst for bloodshed. The story goes that Queen Anne pricked her finger while she was tatting lace, causing tiny flecks of blood to sprinkle her handiwork. At the center of each miniature Queen Anne’s Lace blossom is a speck of dark purple or red. Let it be a reminder to you that though delicate, this wildflower is also fierce.

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Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle and Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.

Sometimes the most beautiful flowers can be spotted alongside highways in summer, blooming outside of graceless truck stops in bright shades of pink and yellow, or covering immense stretches of open fields that speeding drivers pass without stopping to look.

farmhouse and queen anne's lace-erin boyle for gardenista

Above: Be warned: Queen Anne’s lace is often considered an invasive species, and no matter where you intend to plant the seeds, they will spread all over your garden. To achieve the “Wildflower Meadow” look with Queen Anne’s lace is an act of surrender. Photograph by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.

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Above: Queen Anne’s Lace and peach colored roses greet visitors at the door of Grdn in Brooklyn. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Cheat Sheet

    • Plants will grow as tall as 5 feet
    • No matter where you plant Queen Anne’s Lace, it will spread around the garden
    • If your look is “field of wildflowers,” Queen Anne’s Lace looks natural interplanted with daisies and violets
    • Queen Anne’s Lace has been known to boost the growth of tomato plants
    • Sophia_Moreno_Bunge_Gardenista_Arrangement_Materials

Above: Photograph by Sophia Moreno-Bunge. Smoke bush, figs on the branch, and Queen Anne’s Lace make a romantic, moody bouquet. For more, see DIY Floral Arrangement: Smoke Bush and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Keep It Alive

  • A biennial in growing zones 3-9; plant in spring or fall
  • Thrives in sun or partial shad
  • Does not need to be watered unless there is a drought

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Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. A tabletop arrangement of Queen Anne’s Lace and crabapple branches. For step-by-step instructions, see DIY: Foraging for a Botanical Tabletop.

Queen Anne’s Lace, tempting us from across the highway barrier, grows wild in fields and is often found occupying empty lots in the countryside. It looks like a massive lace doily with a flat rosette of tiny white flowers, supported by a 3-to-5-foot stem.

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Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. As small and delicate as her white flowers are, Queen Anne’s Lace is a “my way or the highway” kind of gal. She is tall and feisty, and tends to bully her way around the garden.

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Above: Pretty in pink, Queen Anne’s Lace mixes well with smoke bush in a floral arrangement. Photograph by Sophia Moreno-Bunge.

Because the seeds are light and easily blown by the wind, once you invite the Queen to tea, she is unlikely to leave your garden without a tussle.

Read More:

botanical runner and glass-erin boyle for gardenistaAbove: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Planting wildflowers? See our Field Guide for tips on Cosmos, Foxgloves, and Nettles.