Sunday, June 25, 2017

Memories of Cow Parsley, Or Would That Be Queen Anne's Lace?

Chronica Domus
Cow Parsley or Queen Anne's Lace, that is the question?
Photo: Chronica Domus


On a recent jaunt to the San Francisco Flower Market, I noticed one of the vendors was selling billowy bunches of what I thought to be Cow Parsley or, to use its botanical name, Anthriscus sylvestris.  Before eagerly snapping up two bunches and making my way home, I asked the vendor what the plant is called.  "Queen Anne's Lace" was the response.  I was momentarily taken aback as I could have sworn this was Cow Parsley.  Nevertheless, I was happy to be taking home my bunches, whatever they may be called.

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


It's funny but I had not thought about Cow Parseley for decades.  My memories of it were formed back when I was a young girl living in England. Our house bordered the Kentish countryside and during those carefree days of school summer holidays, I would often be found perched atop my bicycle, gently peddling down the windy country lanes that surrounded our house. One of the most pleasurable visions of those bicycle rides was of the masses of fluffy Cow Parsley.  It grew with abandon, much like a weed, and lined every lane for miles.  Those trailing ribbons of Cow Parsley were truly a sight to behold and one, I believe, as quintessentially British as strawberries and cream are during the month of June.

As I cut and arranged the Queen Anne's Lace in an old earthenware crock, I began to wonder if this was indeed Queen Anne's Lace, or not. Does Cow Parsley even grow in California?

Photo: Chronica Domus


A quick on-line search confirmed that I was not alone in my horticultural beffuddlement.  It appears that  Daucus carota, Queen Anne's Lace, is often confused with Cow Parsley.  Both, it turns out, are related to carrot, among other plants, which likely explains my dubiety.  I've also learned that Cow Parsley is a native plant of Europe, whereas Queen Anne's Lace grows easily to the point of naturalizing here in North America.

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


Who knew the simple act of purchasing a few bundles of a rather familiar-looking plant would lead me down the rabbit warren of nostalgia, seeking knowledge on a plant I've not thought about in an age?

Tell me, do you recall the last time you were transported to your youth and what it was that placed you there?

19 comments:

  1. I love Queen Anne's lace - maybe we should call it all Wild Carrot:)

    And I am surprised by my childhood all the time, as it hangs out in the culverts and empty lots and hillsides of Silicon Valley - where I still live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lisa,

      I imagine there are far fewer empty lots about nowadays in Silicon Valley. Would have enjoyed a gander of the place before the high-tech explosion.

      Delete
  2. Hello CD, Cow parsley and Queen Anne's lace might be similar, but it is very important to distinguish exactly among members of this family, especially when eating, for many lookalikes in the carrot/parsley family are deadly poison. Wild carrot, however is really carrot, and the white roots are edible, although rather strong-flavored and tough. One way to tell Queen Anne's lace is that the center floweret in each head is usually dark purple in color.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,

      Yes, would not like to mix up these two plants. I believe one is related to hemlock.

      Delete
  3. Girl, you DO beat ALL!!! You hold the all-time title of the first person I've ever encountered using "dubiety" in a written sentence. I don't noticing that Miss Austen nor the Messrs. Dickens and Trollope ever utilized that word in all their elegant verbiage.

    I do love that fluffy, lacy stuff---our term for all and the both I suppose was Queen Anne's Lace, though having been of the milk-cow era for quite some time in my youth, I would have thought we'd have used the commoner, more farm-and-earth related term.

    We have quite a bit of it in a front flowerbed, due to my having pulled up each past year's plants when they were dried, and smacked them vigorously against the soil to dislodge all those drying, free-for-the-taking seeds. The neighbors must have thought I was trying to repel a horde of moles.

    And just this morning, in fact, a tiny sound made an instant Time Machine moment---i was opening a door at the hospital, and heard the distinct sound of the Milkman coming up the battered brick walk at Mammaw's house. That clink of bottles in the wire cage was unmistakable, and I was absolutely transported for the moment it took to turn around and see a blue-clad figure rolling a good-sized floor-cart of small oxygen bottles. I mentioned the moment to her, and she parted with "Now I'm craving some good cold MILK!"

    Well, a moment is a moment, and though far-fetched, it's given me a little nudge toward a blog post I've been wanting to write.

    We're 56 mornings and sixties days lately, with the fluffiest clouds in a clear-washed sky. Reward for all that deluge of last week, I think.

    r

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, thank you racheld, it is nice to know I have been honored with a new "wordy" title for my scribbles.

      I enjoyed reading your recollections of the milkman. I have many memories of his daily visits too during my youth.

      Delete
  4. Queen Anne's Lace always transports me back to New England summers. They grow with abandon by the side of the road and in empty lots. I absolutely love them! BTW I have an old earthenware crock very similar to yours.

    slf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello slf,

      The crock I arranged the Queen Anne's Lace in was made, surprisingly to me, made by Royal Doulton. I say surprisingly as I was under the false impression that RD only made loftier wares.

      Delete
  5. Interesting! We are next to a nature preserve that has tons of what I thought was Queen Anne's Lace; and I found out from a friend of mine with horses that it is, in fact, hemlock! Poisonous indeed!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Penelope Bianchi,

      It may be poisonous, but it is certainly beautiful.

      Delete
  6. Honeysuckle always transports GSL back to a North Carolina boyhood with fearless pup Bandit helping survey our kingdom atop treehouse lookout.
    Official policy was NO GIRLS ALLOWED in treehouse but Bandit and I would have made Tip-Top Secret exception for you and Rachel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I adore honeysuckle and the plant I have in my own garden was given to me by a dearly departed friend.

      Your tree house lookout sounds charming.

      Delete
  7. Queens Anne's Lace used to be prolific in Pennsylvania. It always reminds me of my youth. In France I believe this is Carotte Sauvage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Diogenese,

      Carotte sauvage sounds just as charming a name as Queen Anne's Lace. I'm glad it reminds you of your youth too.

      Delete
  8. I adore Queen Anne's Lace and have it in my gardens. I love the story: Queen Anne was tatting white lace. (Tatting is the all-but-lost art of making lace by hand.) The beautiful white lace she was tatting became the white lacy flowers of the wild carrot plant. She pricked her finger and one drop of blood oozed out. This became the central dark red or purple sterile floret that is present on some, but not all, Queen Anne's Lace flowers.

    Legends disagree as to which Queen Anne was tatting such lovely lace. Some say it was Anne (1574 - 1619), the first Stuart Queen Anne, who was brought over from Denmark at fourteen years of age to be a Queen to King James of Scotland. Others argue it was Anne (1665 - 1714), the daughter of William and Mary, and the last monarch in the Stuart line. Both Annes died in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Ann,

      I had no idea of the story associated with this plant. Very interesting indeed, thank you.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Oh, very witty and probably quite right too.

      Delete

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