Thursday, July 11, 2013

Anne's lace

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) Photo Christian Fischer.

Also known as “wild carrot,” — and how plain a name is that? thank goodness someone came up with an alternative — Queen Anne's lace was imported into this country from Europe. 

If its hardiness was shared by the queen, she must have had a tough constitution. The plant will grow in poor soils, often being found in ditches, dry fields and empty open areas. In the Tennessee Valley it’s widespread.

But which Queen Anne? Are we talking Anne Boleyn? Surely not, she wasn't really around that long. 

Anne of Denmark. WikiCommons
As legend has it, the plant gets its name from Anne of Denmark (1574-1619), the queen consort of King James I. Anne was the second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark. She married King James I of England (a.k.a. King James VI of Scotland and King James I of Ireland) in 1589 when she was only 14 years old. (Yes, 14 years old, the t-shirt I am currently wearing is older than that.) They had three children who survived into adulthood including the future king, Charles I.

Queen Anne was an expert lace-maker. As the story goes the nimble-fingered queen challenged the ladies of the court to create a pattern of lace as fine and beautiful as the flower. Yet, no one could match her own needlework. Queen Anne won the contest but pricked her finger at the end, thereby giving the flower the touch of red that often appears.

Queen Anne did not know of the honor bestowed on her. The name “Queen Anne’s lace” didn’t appear in print until 1895, a full 276 years after she died. 

That's a shame.

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