Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace is a historic relative of the carrot, enticing countless insects with its white umbels. Here’s how to plant and care for it.

Jun 02, 2021 07:11 am
readtime icon 7 Minutes
Growth type
  • Perennial plant
  • biennial or short-lived
Growth height (from)
from 30 cm to 100 cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • rosette-forming
Flower color
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • June to October
Flower shape
  • umbels
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • feathered
  • lancéolées
Sheet properties
  • fragrant
  • Rosette
  • sunny
Soil type
  • sandy
Soil Moisture
  • dry to moderately dry
Lime compatibility
  • lime-loving
Nutrient requirements
  • low in nutrients
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • medicinal plant
  • Nectar or pollen plant
  • native wild plant
areas of life
  • GR1
  • FR1
  • FR2
  • Flowerbeds
  • Bouquets
  • flower meadows
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • Pharmacy Garden
  • cottage garden
  • Flower garden
  • Herb Garden
  • natural garden
Bee Friendly
bee friendly plant

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is a plant in the umbellifer family (Apiaceae). It is a parent of the orange-colored Common or Garden carrot (Daucus carota ssp. sativus). Queen Anne’s Lace was originally commonly found in Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia, where it grows in dry, limey soil along paths, embankments and sunny slopes. The thin roots of Daucus carota can also be used like carrots, although they are not as tender. In folk medicine, the root is traditionally used as a worming treatment and restorative.


Queen Anne’s Lace is an herbaceous biennial that grows from 12 to 39 inches in height. The relatively thin taproots hardly contain any carotene, so they are white rather than the standard shade of carrot orange. Daucus carota forms upright stalks with vertical stripes, covered with small hairs that stand on end. The stalks are heavily branched. Just like the common carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace gives off a typically carrot-like smell.


The leaves of Daucus carota are double to triple pinnate and have lance-leaf pinnate sections measuring up to 1.18 inches long. The pinnatipartite leaves are reminiscent of Caraway and give off a carrot-like scent when rubbed between the fingers.


In the first year, Queen Anne’s Lace, or Wild Carrot, forms a rosette of pinnate leaves close to the ground. In its second year, Queen Anne’s Lace’s striking flowers appear between June and October. They sit in dense, multi-stemmed white umbels that are up to 3.15 inches wide. The double umbel inflorescence is only flat when in full bloom. As the fruit ripens, the umbel is concave in the middle and looks like a bird’s nest. The long bracts are triple pinnate.

Queen Anne’s Lace flowers
The Wild Carrot attracts butterflies, bees and other insects like magic thanks to the dark spot in the middle of its flowers

Daucus carota has characteristic dark red to purple spots in the middle of its white flower heads (anthocyanin dot), which are also known as “carrot flowers”. The whole plant is also called the “Wild Carrot”. Scientists think that the dark spot in the middle of Queen Anne’s lace’s white flower heads is a kind of beacon flower to attract insects. The mock fly is said to attracts insects, who settle on the flower and help the plant to spread. This quirk often leads to success: during the summer, Queen Anne’s lace attracts countless insects and is a favorite meal of Old World swallowtail caterpillars.

The dark spot allows Queen Anne’s lace to be identified among other toxic yet similar-looking umbellifers such as hemlock (Conium maculatum) and fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium). What’s more, the other plants do not have long, pinnate bracts like Daucus carota.


After Queen Anne’s lace flowers, a seed head that looks like a bird’s nest is formed. Ovate burrs form, measuring 0.12 to 0.16 inches long. These are made up of two partial fruits with flat thorns.


Queen Anne’s lace thrives in sunny locations.


Daucus carota is relatively low-maintenance and can adapt to many soils. Due to its natural habitat, this plant grows best in dry, permeable and limey soils.


Sow Queen Anne’s lace seeds directly into a bed in spring. As a cold germinator, Daucus carota requires a longer period at low temperatures of around 41 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate. For a wildflower meadow, the seeds can be sown via broadcast seeding with a distance of around 15.7 inches.


Until it germinates, keep Queen Anne’s Lace moist enough and water the plant during any extended dry periods. Otherwise, no further special care is necessary.


You don’t need to divide Daucus carota as the plant will self-seed voraciously without any prompting.

Where to plant

Queen Anne’s Lace is a cute umbellifer that is ideal for natural planting in sunny and low-nutrient areas of the garden. It is often included in seed blends designed for creating wildflower meadows and butterfly gardens. It is often combined with other plants suited to low-nutrient, permeable soils. With their bird’s nest appearance, the inflorescences of Daucus carota also make lovely (dried) cut flowersfor displaying in vases.

Queen Anne’s lace wild carrot taproots
Queen Anne’s Lace taproots are white and milder in flavor than cultivated carrots

Furthermore, the leaves in the ground-level rosette, the thin taproots, the flowers and even (albeit rarely) the fruit can be used in cooking. The leaves and mild-tasting taproots should be harvested in the early spring or in fall of the first year. As soon as the flower stems grow from the rosette, the roots become woody. The leaves can be added to soups, salads and pesto as well as smoothies. The roots can be shaved to eat raw or blended into soups.

Wild Carrot is also used to treat skin irritations in folk medicine. A paste of the roots is used to treat burns, for example. Daucus carota appears as a medicine in Medieval herb books. The “father of botany”, Hieronymus Bock (1498 –1554), recommended Wild Carrot to treat the spleen, kidneys and bladder.


Queen Anne’s Lace can be propagated through sowing seed in spring, although it will self-seed.

Diseases and Pests

Like cultivated carrots, Daucus carota can fall foul to Carrotfly (Psila rosae). Generally, the plant is impervious to fungal diseases and pests.