Every summer in our state, the prairie fields, pastures and road sides are highlighted with brilliant white of her lace. In fact, you can find her calling card in my front perennial walk planting. The collective effort which makes up her compound umbel inflorescence is an engineering marvel to behold. The inverted umbrella like structure supports dozens of small showy white petals packed tightly next to several of these structures. The end result, a near perfect white laced topped inflorescence suitable for nobility.
Thus Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota ssp. carota is recognized early on in one’s botanical journey as a flower illustrative of grace and engineering. Sure the plant is also known as the “Wild Carrot”, such a pedestrian name for a flower so grand. Today the limited variations of this flower are lumped into one big taxonomic slug. But if you pay attention, close attention, you will see what my long since passed old friend knew, that every once in a while, the color spills! So stop for a moment and look at the first picture- the one just of the flower, do you notice the dark black spot in the middle? Look again, it is not a spot or a native pollinator, nope – it is a flower- in fact it is so intensely red it appears black to all of us mortals. But my old friend, the late Dr Julian Steyermark, believed that every so often this red pigment was shared throughout the entire inflorescence- the result- a rare pink blushed lace doily- truly fit for a queen. He believed this was such a spectacular event that he elevated the variation to its own taxon.
What got me thinking of all of this was just last week I was on a site managed by the City of Springfield, while sharing the story of my favorite flower and the cute little red flower in the very center of the inflorescence, I was stunned not to find the flower in the middle. Upon closer review, the flower was off white – or yes- a very very light pink. Just to be sure, I layed the flower over to discover pink petioles supporting the umbellate inflorescence. Needless to say, it was the very variation I was hoping to point out! That’s joy of nature for you.
“When the world wearies, and Society ceases to satisfy,
There is always the Garden!”