Lawn Care Nature

What’s this fern-like Weed?

The excessive spring rain in Northern Virginia has lead to dramatic weed growth.

Queen Anne's Lace weed just pulled from landscape bed
A freshly pulled Queen Anne’s Lace weed

This spring, we’ve hit the jackpot on steady soaking rains. Our reward is lush green growth, and unwelcomed weeds in the lawn and landscape beds. A roadside weed that we’re seeing quite often is Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota.

The fern-like foliage of Queen Anne’s lace has unexpectedly sprouted in many of our client’s landscape beds. Our Technicians repeatedly hear clients share, “What is this? I’ve never seen this tall weed here before.”

Queen Anne’s Lace seeds can lay dormant in the soil for up to five years, waiting for good sprouting conditions. Steady rain, on multiple days, like we’ve just experienced, percolates down deep into the soil, triggering germination in the buried seeds.


How did Queen Anne’s Lace end up in my garden?

Prolific white flowers, which are produced in the plant’s second year, put out hundreds of tiny seeds. Queen Anne’s Lace has a sweet bloom, similar to the cow parsnip, but much smaller. This plant can become invasive and extremely hard to eradicate due to the strong, deep taproot and the velcro seeds. These hitchhikers move to new locations on pet fur, pant legs, birds and even car tires.

Queen Anne's Lace Flower Head with central red flower
The “beautiful white lace” Queen Anne was tatting has a telltale central “drop of blood” from a single prick of the finger

 Queen Anne’s lace roots smell just like ‘real’ carrots.

Queen Anne's Lace weed, (left) compared to a stubby orange carrot (right)
Queen Anne’s Lace, (left) a stubby orange garden carrot (right).

In fact, this plant is the direct ancestor to the commercially grown carrots we eat in our salads.  As this fast growing plant gets taller, its leaves shade out smaller plants growing nearby and underneath.  The best (and most time consuming) way to remove Queen Anne’s Lace is to carefully pull out each plant, making sure to get the deep taproot.


While it may not look nice in your landscape beds, caterpillars of the large eastern black swallowtail butterflies, think the weed looks and tastes just fine.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on Queen Annesl ace weed
Black swallowtail caterpillars munching Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. Photo credit: Edith Smith