Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How my garden grows - The questionable carrot

Questionable Carrot
While pulling out the never ending crop of weeds invading my garden space I came across one was that was incredibly stubborn.  It was so impossible to pull up by hand that I had to resort to using a shovel to dig the thing up.

I pulled it out only to discover what looked like a carrot . . . a really big carrot.  It was logical for me to assume it actually was a carrot based on it's location.  You see, I had planted carrots in that same spot last season.

Queen Anne's Lace
I showed my hubby and he insisted that it wasn't a carrot but Queen Anne's Lace  . . . i.e. a wild carrot from which today's cultivated carrots owe their roots.  Roots . . . heheh . . . get it?

Anyway . . . since cultivated carrots and wild carrots are so similar in appearance and our garden spot has a proliferation of the weeds, I suppose it is possible that he may be correct . . . but I still think I'm right.

Carrots and Queen Anne's Lace have similar foliage, similar roots, smell distinctly carrot-like and both are edible.  Although, the wild carrot is most palatable while still young and tender as it get's a very woody texture as it matures.  Much of this woodiness has been bred out of the cutlivated carrot.

Queen's Anne's Lace are most recognizable because of it's flower; so called because the flower resembles lace.  The flower itself is actually many smaller flowers clustered together to look like one large flower.

Carrot Flower

Cultivated carrots do flower but they are generally harvested before the flower gets a chance to set.  This is because they are biennial,  meaning they will flower in their second year but not in their first.

Poison Hemlock

A word of warning:  poison hemlock . . . which is indeed poisonous, even deadly . . . looks very very similar to Queen Anne's Lace.  The biggest differences between the two are Queen Anne's Lace has fuzzy stems and smell like carrots when broken.  Whereas, poison hemlock has a smooth, purple splotched stem and smells terrible when broken.  If your not sure . . . don't eat it.

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