Wild carrot Daucas carota L.
Family: Apiaceae (Parsley family)
Life cycle: Biennial
Native status: Introduced
Habitat: Pastures, roadsides
General description: Forms basal rosette of pinnately divided leaves during first year, in the second year an erect flower stalk up to 3 ft tall in second year. Inflorescence is a flat umbel with numerous white, lace-like flowers. Mature umbels roll up into a ‘bird’s nest’.
Key ID traits: Leaves are pinnately dissected with fine, lacy lobes; petioles are longer than the blade. Stems are hollow, hairy and ribbed. Pubescent stems and petioles. Often a single purple flower is found in center of umbel.
Similar species: Poison hemlock is found in similar habitats, but the lobes of leaves are not as finely divided as wild carrot. Leaves of poison hemlock have a triangular shape, whereas the margins of wild carrot are nearly parallel. Poison hemlock has purple spots on the stem and reaches heights of 5-6 ft. Wild carrot is the latest of the three primary Apiacea weeds in Iowa to flower: poison hemlock is first, followed by wild parsnip, and wild carrot brings up the end of the pack.
Miscellaneous: Wild carrot is the same species as the cultivated variety. Frequently called Queen-Anne’s lace; the purple flower in the center of most umbels is said to be the blood of Queen Anne after she pricked her finger while making lace.