A favorite wildflower along the roads, trails, edges of fields and streams is the Queen Anne’s Lace. It comes into bloom in the heat of late summer.
Queen Anne’s Lace earned its common name from a legend that tells of Queen Anne of England pricking her finger and a drop of blood landed on white lace she was sewing. The flower resembles lace and oftentimes the flower has a solitary purple dot in the center.
The lace flowers have a flat-topped white umbel. Each flower cluster is made up of numerous tiny white flowers. The flower cluster starts out curled up and then opens to allow pollination. The cluster rolls itself shut again like a reverse umbrella when it goes to seed at the end of the season.
Queen Anne’s Lace is not poisonous – the problem is there is a look-alike plant, Poison Hemlock which is poisonous when ingestion.
Before you go harvesting, it’s best to tell the plants apart. Queen Anne’s Lace has a green, hairy stalk. Poison Hemlock has a smooth stalk with purple or black spots or streaks on the stem.
Queen Anne’s Lace is a delicate, frilly, clustered flower head, also known as wild carrot, is an attractive filler flower for bouquets and floral arrangements. Queen Anne’s Lace is a biennial, blooming the second year of growth.
The broad, flat cluster of tiny, white or light-yellow flowers, with the identifiable single, dark-purple center flower, appears on long stems that are easy to harvest for cut flower creations. Fresh cut Queen Anne’s Lace has a vase life of three to seven days. Proper preparation and care will keep the flower fresh longer. Harvest Queen Anne’s Lace flowering stems in the morning, after the dew is gone. Cut the stems longer than you will need, using a sharp knife or sharp hand shears.
Place the cut stems in a container of water as you harvest them. The tiny blossoms of the Queen Anne’s Lace flower head should have some of the flowers already opened with the remaining unopened buds showing color. The blossoms will not open while in a bouquet if Queen Anne’s Lace is harvested too soon, before the flower buds are mature.
Remove any leaves and foliage from the stems that might become submerged in the vase water of your floral arrangement, using a sharp knife or shears.
Use a sharp knife to re-cut the ends of the Queen Anne’s Lace stems to the preferred length for your bouquet, while holding the stem under water. Cutting the stems under water prevents an air bubble from developing at the stem cut, which would block water uptake and cause the flower to wilt sooner.
Place the re-cut Queen Anne’s Lace stem in a vase; mix 20 drops of household bleach with 1 qt. of warm water to use in your flower arrangement vase. Warm water is more easily absorbed up the stem of flowers, keeping the flower and stem fully hydrated. Queen Anne’s Lace flower clusters often suffer from water stress, meaning the stem and flower head do not receive adequate water supply and will wilt.
Every two to three days, re-cut 1/2- to 1 inch off the Queen Anne’s Lace stems, again, under water. Re-opening up the stem end and refreshing the water will keep the stem and flower head hydrated, extending the vase life.
Queen Anne’s Lace flowers look like fireworks and make a beautiful July 4th decoration. Using food coloring, add 10-20 drops of color into a bottle and add your flower. Check on the flower every 10 minutes. Let them
sit overnight and they will get brighter and bolder with time. You might find colors such as orange, blue, green and yellow will color the fastest. Red or purple are slower to soak up the color.
Most plants ‘drink’ water from the ground through their roots. The water travels up the stem of the plant into the leaves and flowers where it makes food. When a flower is cut, it no longer has its roots, but the stem of the flower still “drinks” up the water and provides it to the leaves and flowers.
The results are a fabulous 4th of July bouquet where the flowers resemble fireworks!