Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bird's nest

Bird's nest is an alternate name for Queen Anne's Lace, so called because of the way the stems rise upward to form a cup-shaped basket as the seed heads ripen, reminding some of a bird's nest. The flower heads are flat-topped and as dainty as any fine lace; the foliage fine-cut and bright green. A single purple floret lies in the center of many, but not all, of the flowers.

Some botanists believe that this central purple floret acts as decoy to attract insects to pollinate the flowers. It's said that many insects will automatically be lured to the dark-colored flower and I've found crab spiders patiently waiting there for their next meal to arrive.

If the crab spiders have come recently from yellow flowers they will be light yellow and adorned with faint pink markings. After a few days on the white lacy flowers they gradually turn white, also with pink markings, to match perfectly the white "umbrellas" with their purple centers, near to where they are waiting for their next victims’ arrival.

These pics were taken in the meadow at Deep Cut Gardens, but Queen Anne's Lace can be found now along many a roadside. I'll sometimes grow it in pots at home, afraid to set it loose in any of the gardens because it reseeds so freely. Queen Anne's Lace has quite a few lookalikes, many of them deadly poisonous, so be very careful of sampling the root of any plant you suspect to be this wild carrot.

7 comments:

Maya's Granny said...

Because my apartment stairs are against the mountainside, my "garden" is wild. Queen Anne's lace and sweet rocket and goat's beard and dandelions. I love them all.

NatureWoman said...

I didn't realize Queen Anne's lace was also called Bird's Nest, nor did I know about the purple flower in the center. Thanks for the info!

silverlight said...

I really like Queen Anne's Lace. It always appears bright and fresh adding a delicacy where ever it grows.
We used it a lot in floral arranging and is a wonderful filler flower.
Never noticed the lavender touch. That was remiss of me.hmm.
I not only get my bunnie fix on your blog, but also, a lovely flower fix.
Nice.

Susan Gets Native said...

I always wondering about the little thing in the middle of Queen Anne's Lace!

LauraHinNJ said...

Very pretty weed, isn't it?

Laura said...

Your post reminded me when I was little I used to wonder if any birds used those 'nests' because they looked so cozy. If you add food coloring to water and put them in, the flowers will change color. Neat little thing for kids to do.

LauraHinNJ said...

They do look cozy - I can imagine a hummingbird making a nest there, although that's probably way too big for them.

May try the food coloring in the water to amuse myself - thanks for the tip and sharing your memory.