Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nature Explorers Club - Queen Anne's Lace

Welcome to The Nature Explorers Club. I am a mom who loves nature and loves to share it with others. Using my experience as an Outdoor Education Instructor and the basic guidelines of the book "Nature For the Very Young", I will be venturing out to explore the great outdoors every week with my kids. Every week I will share what we did, and every week you are welcome to join us. I will post the topic of the week, the none week later I will share what we did and give you a chance to share as well. So get your boots ready, because we're going exploring!

This week we are looking for:
Queen Anne's Lace
Photo courtesy of
Queen Anne's Lace, also known as Wild Carrot, is a very common flower that can be found in most open fields or abandoned lots. To many, it is considered a weed. A weed is simply a plant that is not desired. It is up to you wether or not you want to deem this beautiful flower a weed. It derives its name Queen Anne's Lace because of how the flower head (called an umbel) looks like lace. If you have it, bring apiece of lace with you to compare, especially since many children have no idea what lace is.

Queen Anne's Lace is a biennial plant, meaning that it takes two years for it to grow to maturity. The first year there is a mound of leaves, the second year it grows flowers and stems. The large umbel is actually a gathering of several smaller flowers. Some young flowers can be found bearing a deep purple color, which will fade as the flower matures.
Photo courtesy of

Attempt to pull one from the ground, keeping the root intact. It should look just like a carrot, but with a different color. If possible, have a carrot with you to compare. Let your child explore the plant using all of their senses. Bring some water to wash the root off and take a taste. Does it taste like a carrot? Smell like one? Feel like one?

Point out the basic parts of the plant, root, stem, leaf and flower. You may notice that some of the flowers look different, like they have closed up on themselves. This is often called a "bird's nest". This happens when the flower starts to develop seeds. It closes in on itself to catch the seeds. Shake one, do any seeds come out? When the plant is all dried up, the birds nest drops off and acts like a tumbleweed, blowing in the wind distributing seeds.
Photo courtesy of CT Botanical Society

Explore the habitat (the place where things live) to see what else you find around the plant. If you are in an open field, don't be afraid to let you children go and romp, skip and jump. There is plenty of time to learn plant parts and scientific names.

Following are some possible activities that can be done that pertain to Queen Anne's Lace. Pick which ones best suit you and your kids, or feel free to add some of your own.

*Look closely at the plant, how many different colors can you see. Use those colors to create a picture using crayons, paint, or anything else.

*Make a crown out of flowers and pretend to be Kings and Queens

*Draw or print a large Q on a piece of paper and use the flower head as a paint brush to cover it with paint.

*Just as the "birdsnest" is used to catch the seeds, use one to play catch (great for hand-eye coordination)

*Discuss how to some this may be a weed (unwanted), but that it is very useful to others. (bees for pollen, insects for shelter, etc.)

*Using a carrot, with a full top, and a fully dug up Queen Anne's Lace, list what is different and what is the same between the two plants.

Check back next week and share how you and your children explored the great outdoors.


  1. Jen, this is great! Is QAL something that I can find in Wyoming?

  2. Great Lesson! I'm going to steal it from you! ha, ha!

  3. I still have not found any QAL, but I found a neat link that says that QAL is edible! She fried it up like a funnel cake! *Ü*