Sunday, August 19, 2012


I always thought Queen Anne's lace was named for the British Queen Anne; it turns out, though, that it was named for her great-grandmother, Anne of Denmark, consort of King James of England, born 1574. Anne was an accomplished lace maker, and her name became associated with the flower, which looks a lot like fine lace. She pricked her finger with her tatting needle one day; the little dot of dark red (visible in the photograph) that appears in every blossom is said to be a drop of her blood.

Queen Anne's Lace, Darcus carota, grows in meadows and pastures throughout North America. Native Americans boiled it for tea and also used it as a contraceptive (the details of that are a bit shaky to me, but it had something to do with the seeds).

Another common flower that oftentimes grows as a companion to Queen Anne is Solidago, known to most as goldenrod. There are more than eighteen species of it, and all have bright golden flowers on leaved stalks -- some smooth-edged, some serrated. Its medicinal applications include tonics for kidney troubles, colds, and other infections.

I come from a long line of wildflower pickers: My great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all picked huge amounts of Queen Anne's Lace and goldenrod. I remember bowls and vases full of the stuff -- lovely mixtures of bright yellow and soft white in their living rooms, on their dining room tables, on their grand pianos.

And now it's my turn. There's this vase, full of lace and rod, on my dining room floor right now; I'll refill it every four days or so until blooming season ends for both of them.

It reminds me of where I come from, who I am.

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