Family: Umbelliferae, or Carrot
Synonyms and Common names: Queen Anne’s Lace, Birds Nest Weed, Bees Nest, Devils Plague, garden carrot, Bird's Nest Root, Fools Parsley, and Lace Flower.
Description and Habitat: Wild Carrot is a biennial herbaceous plant. In the herb’s first year it grows a rosette of basal leaves, bolting upwards during its second year, to produce flowering stalks reaching two to five feet high. The central stem of second-year plants is light green, vertically veined, and hollow, its leaves growing alternate. Overall, the appearance of compound leaves for this plant is rather lacy or fern-like.
The upper stems terminate in solitary compound umbels of flowers on long stalks. These stalks are 4-20" long and similar to the stems.
The compound umbels of flowers are 2-5" across, and slightly dome-shaped. Each compound umbel consists of 20-90 umbellets, and each umbellet has 15-60 flowers. Each flower is about 2-3 mm. across, consisting of 5 white petals, an insignificant calyx, and five white stamens. Most flower heads have one
The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early autumn, lasting about 2 months. In the absence of insect cross-pollination, the flowers are self-fertile; they have no noticeable fragrance.
What sets aside Wild Carrot from other umbellifers are first, it is smaller than most other of the carrot family, and second, Wild Carrot has small green stalks that stick out beneath the flowers, this helps a great deal with recognition. Look also at its stem, it should be green and smooth.
It is also a point to remember because some umbellifers are very poisonous indeed. For instance, Hemlock, which is distinctive from other umbellifers with its largish purple stains on its stalk, and a smooth stem. If you are foraging for herbs or food, this is a point you need to take note of.
The root system of Wild Carrot consists of brownish-white, to a white taproot which is somewhat woody and bitter. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself.
Wild Carrot is a native of northern Europe, growing in Britain, in fields, hedgerows and woodlands margins. The herb prefers full sunlight and moist conditions and can spread aggressively if its situation is to its liking. Its deep taproot makes it difficult to remove, although it does not reproduce by spreading roots, it will throw up its rosette of leaves and has a habit of staying unseen until throwing up the first flower stalks in the second year.
Parts used: Dried aerial parts and seed.
Collection and preparation: The aerial parts of the herb should be collected between early summer and late autumn, if gathering its seed, then obviously wait until the seeds are dry on the plant and gather then.
Constituents: Volatile oil, an alkaloid
Seed: Uterine tonic (contraceptive, fertility enhancer) urinary antiseptic, diuretic, carminative, diaphoretic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, aperient, appetite stimulant, cholagogue, emmenagogue, hypo-cholesterolemic, tranquillizing nervine, prostatic, relaxant, uterine relaxant, estrogenic, blocks progesterone synthesis.
Leaves and flowers: Antilithic, antirheumatic, carminative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic.
Indications and Therapeutics:
The volatile oil present in Wild Carrot is an active urinary antiseptic, which helps explain its use in the treatment of such conditions as cystitis and prostatitis. It has been considered a specific in the treatment of kidney stones for a long time.
In the treatment of gout and rheumatism, it is used in combination with other remedies to provide its cleansing diuretic action. The seeds can be used as a settling carminative agent for the relief of flatulence and colic.
The use of Wild Carrot as a contraceptive was well known in days gone by. Today it is usual to rely on prescription medications, but back in times when this wasn’t available, Wild Carrot was used to good effect by many women for preventing pregnancy. The way of doing this can be found in ‘Folklore,’ which can be found at the bottom of this Monograph for anyone interested.
Contraindications: Not to be used if the process of pregnancy is being attempted, and as usual with most herbs, do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Preparation and dosage:
Infusion: 1 teaspoonful of the dried aerial parts into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes and drink three times daily.
Tincture: 1-2ml. of tincture is taken three times daily.
Additional comments and Folklore:
Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota or Wild Carrot for centuries as a contraceptive. The earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates. The herb is also a potent abortive.
Wild carrot seeds are one of the more potent antifertility agents available and a common plant in many regions of the world.
The carrot family of herbs is vast; it is sometimes difficult to differentiate one from another, however, Wild Carrot or Queen Anne’s lace can be recognised by taking a close look at its flowers, leaves and habit.
Wild carrot is smaller than most others of the carrot family of herbs, it tends to have the appearance of being feathery and delicate. Its flowers are beautiful with the umbellifer family name producing its usual umbrella-shaped flower heads, but what differentiates the wild carrot from all other umbellifers sits beneath the flower. So turn the flower upside down and notice the green spikes coming from under the flower stems, they are what makes the wild carrot easily distinguishable from all other umbellifers.
There are some umbellifers that are very poisonous indeed. I make no apology for repeating this information from above.
Hemlock ‘Conium maculatum’ is probably the most dangerous, but its smooth stem displaying purple marks distinguishes it from all others, this one is strongly advised to be avoided. The death of Socrates is well documented, where a cup of Hemlock was his choice of poison when asked how he wanted to achieve his own death.
Using Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild carrot, Daucus carota) for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.
Please note: I am passing on folklore, what you do with it is your choice, I take no responsibility for the choices others make.
Wild Carrot seeds are collected from the flower head in autumn are thoroughly chewed, swallowed and washed down with water or juice. The taste is heavy and oily.
It’s the volatile oils contained within the seed that prevent implantation of the egg. Chewing the seeds releases the oils; if you simply swallow the seeds then they will pass right through the digestive system without releasing the oils, this will make the seeds ineffective.
In the reproductive cycle of the female, it is progesterone that prepares the uterus to receive the egg, the oil from Queen Anne’s lace makes the lining of the uterus slippery, so the egg doesn’t implant.
The most important time to take them is just before ovulation, during ovulation and for a week following. It goes without saying that this method is only of use by women who know their cycle and can gauge when ovulation will take place.
One teaspoon of seeds is chewed and swallowed once a day.
It is important to use a backup method of contraception particularly during the first two months of using Wild Carrot seeds for the use of contraception. It takes time for the body to adjust to a new regime, and for the individual to develop confidence in such an unconventional method, but one which our ancestors would have been very comfortable with.