Daucus Carota

Wild Carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bird’s Nest

Botany

Wild Carrot is a biennial plant that stands tall and erect (2).  In it’s first year of growth, it grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, building up it underground taproot which contains and stores sugars that will help it to grow in its second year. It then grows erect to about 3 feet tall, producing an umbel of tiny white flowers at the end of its stem (2). The stems are finely ribbed and have tiny white hairs. They are hollow and un-branched.

Wild Carrot tends to be a very aggressive herb. It is a biennial plant, which means it only grows for 2 years and does not form a very large root mass. It is a very prolific seeder, and therefore spreads very rapidly, and can easily overtake a garden and be difficult to eradicate. It is easy to grow and prefers a lot of sunshine and well drained, neutral soil. The entire plant can be harvested in July or when the flowers are in bloom. The roots and shoots are best to harvest in the spring, while the seeds should be gathered in the fall. 

Chemistry

One of the active agents in Wild Carrot includes porphyrins, which stimulate the pituitary gland and lead to the increased release of sex hormones. This is what causes spontaneous abortions of fetuses, due to uterine contractions. Wild Carrot also contains tannins, which have an astringent effect. They help to precipitate proteins out of the urinary tract, which gives it its diuretic properties (1). These tannins also help to reduce inflammation (1).

Fun Fact

History

Wild Carrot was introduced in Europe (2) and then brought into North America by Pilgrims, and was used by them most commonly as a diuretic, a cure for indigestion, and a form of birth control (3 ). The wild root is yellowish white (3), but the Dutch began breeding the roots to be orange in the 16th century in order to honor the royal family. There is also often a single dark colored red or purple floret found just off center, standing higher than the rest of the white flowers (2). Botanists are still debating the mystery of this purple flower. Ancient folk lore also suggests that Wild Carrot was used in rituals and spells to increase fertility and sexual desire

 

Uses/Pharmacology

Today, Wild Carrot is used in many different ways. It is an aromatic herb that serves as a diuretic, soothes the digestive tract, and stimulates the uterus(1). It is cleansing and supports healthy function of the liver and kidneys (1). It has also been shown to help with diabetes . Because it stimulates the uterus, it is often used as the morning after contraception (3). It also has antiseptic properties, and the oil is suitable to dry chapped skin and is used in lip care and lotions.

Dosing/Recipes

Recipes:

1. Infusion: Steep 1 tsp. of Wild Carrot leaves (not the stems) in 1 cup of water for 5-10 minutes. Strain and drink to stop the formation of kidney stones, stimulate urination, and support the liver.

2. Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly: 18 fresh lace heads, 4 cups of water, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 package of powdered pectin, 3 ½ cups sugar. Boil the water and steep the heads into a tea. Strain and add the other ingredients. Boil again, put into jars and cool. 

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions

Some cautions should be taken before consuming Wild Carrot. This herb is not recommended for pregnant women, because it can cause spontaneous abortion (3). It can cause hypersensitivity and dermatitis in some people if used directly on the skin (2). It can interfere with hormonal medication and therapy, as well as interact with blood pressure medication (3). It is also very similar looking to poison hemlock, which is a very poisonous plant also growing in the wild (2). It should be made certain that the herb you harvest is Wild Carrot before using it in any recipe.

References Cited

1. Hoffman, David. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies. Milton: Elemental Books Limited, 1996. Print.

2. “Queen Anne’s Lace.” Queen Anne’s Lace. Web. 18 Mar 2012.  <http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/queen_annes_lace.htm> .

3. “Wild Carrot.” PRCUPCC. Web. 18 Mar 2012.

<http://www.prcupcc.org/herbs/herbsw /wildcarrot.htm>.