Though we think of it as a Southern wildflower, Queen Anne's lace actually hails from northern Europe and Asia and is a wild form of the carrot (D. carota sativus)but unlike its culinary kin (see Carrot), it forms only a small, inedible root. It compensates for that lack, however, with the lacy, flat-topped white flower clusters that grace fields and meadows in early summer.
Plants grow to about 3 feet tall. After the flowers fade, old blooms curl up into a cup-shaped clump of seeds resembling a bird's nest. Seeds disperse widely and germinate readily, which explains how the plant has become so widespread. Queen Anne's lace is ideal for naturalized areas and cottage gardens; to add it to your plantings, gently crush a seed cluster in your hand and sprinkle the seeds onto bare soil in late summer. One seed cluster per garden is plenty. Plants thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Seedlings form tufts of lacy foliage the first year, flower and set seed the second year, then die. Excellent as a cut flowerand if you gather most of the blooms for arrangements, fewer seeds will be formed and spread will be more manageable.