Queen Anne’s Lace, an edible wild carrot plant, is starting to sweep across our fields in white waves.

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However, similar – but poisonous – plants also are blooming in some of those fields: Water Hemlock, which has fairly recently caused fatalities in Maine and elsewhere, and Poison Hemlock, which is most famous for killing Socrates a while ago. Check the stems before you pick any lacy white flowers to eat or display. Queen Anne’s Lace has a hairy stem; Water and Poison Hemlock do not, nor do the other white lacy plants (Cow’s Parsley, Cow’s Parsnip, etc.).

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Of course, Queen Anne’s Lace does have a bit of a bloody history. It apparently was named after a legend about the Queen pricking her finger while tatting lace, thereby ruining the lace with a drop of royal blood. As you know, many Queen Anne’s Lace flowers have a central red or purple floret “ruining” their white purity. (Brooklin, Maine)