Featured Flower: Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne’s Lace (a member of the wild carrot family) has been naturalized in the states from Europe and Asia, likely as a companion crop to cultivated vegetables. Its name stems from its delicate snow-white, lace-like structure dotted with a single scarlet flower, presumably Queen Anne’s blood as she pricked her finger sewing the lace.
Although attractive looking, the scent is not particularly sweet-smelling to humans. These flowers, blooming in Northern California in summer through winter, have two things in common with snowflakes: no two are exactly alike, and they bob gracefully in a breeze, bringing an airy sense to the dry landscape of Autumn.
If you look closer, you will notice that the one flower is made up of many small flowers in a cluster. Each Queen Anne’s Lace is a complex structure composed of a lattice that connects miniature poms (composed of yet smaller flowers) into one flower.
These parts gather together to form a perfect spiral. Its shape demonstrates a spiral phyllotaxis, an Archimedian spiral with a new element every 137.5 degrees (similar to the pattern of a sunflower head). Viewed from all angles it is a work of architectural genius.
As you study this commonplace flower, look closer and observe nature’s perfect geometry, and for a moment concentrate in and contemplate on this microcosm of a galaxy. Then look outward to the field of flowers, breathe in the world around you, and count yourself rich indeed.
Text and photos by Nadja Masura