Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
Foraging for wild carrot seeds on a foraging course

Wild carrot seeds are a fantastic, interesting, aniseedy, yet elusive wild spice that I cover in my Wild Food Foraging book. They are not recommended for pregnant women.

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Beautiful wild carrot flowers (Daucus carota) delight me and inspired me to write this song! Wild carrot is a wonderful, summery, coastal flower with a particular story and mythology attached to it which I explain below. I also love its shape, colours and subtle scent in the summer breeze.

Wild Carrot is also one of the wild foods in Wild Food Foraging book, where I describe how to identify and use it, with recipes and photos.

Words of the 1st verse and chorus of my Wild Carrot song

Spot of blood, on her dress
It was white, what a mess!
Lace of course, green below
Made of grass, what a show!

Ooooh, o-o-o-ooh- oo
Ooooh, o-o-o-ooh Wild Carrot

Wild carrot on a foraging course in Cornwall

The story of Wild Carrot aka Queen Anne's Lace

Wild carrot is also sometimes known as Queen Anne's Lace, referring to the pattern of the flowers being reminiscent of a beautiful lace. There are a few stories relating to this.

1. Queen Anne was sewing lace and pricked her finger - describing the red spot that is sometimes present in the centre of wild carrot flowers.

2. Queen Anne of Boleyn (the second of King Henry V111 wives), was beheaded, hence the spot of blood, or even the splattering of pink across some, often younger, wild carrot flowers.

It is unclear the exact origin of the name, and indeed which Queen Anne is being referred to. Perhaps Anne (1574 - 1619) who was of Dannish origin who married King James of Scotland. Otherwise Anne (1665 - 1714), the daughter of William and Mary, and the last monarch in the Stuart line. Maybe it was Anne Boleyn (1501-1536), who was Queen of England for just 3 years before she was beheaded for treason and other charges.

Wild carrot on a foraging course in Cornwall

Characteristics of Wild Carrot flowers

Wild carrot is a member of the Umbellifer or Umbelliferae family, also known as Apiaceae or Carrot family. Within this family are some wonderful edibles such as parsley, coriander, celery, alexanders, rock samphire and common hogweed. There are also some deadly members such as hemlock water dropwort, so correct identification is essential.

The carrot flowers have a grass 'skirt' below the spokes of the flowerhead. It is this that I refer to in the song. I've often thought is would make a wonderful, theatrical dress - an ornate, lacy dress with a grass skirt below. What do you think?!

P.s Can you hear the pheasant chick in the bakcground of the video?

Homemade stuffing with wild ingredients

Oooh! I'm hooked on making stuffing at the moment. This version has a slightly perfumed, cumin-like addition from the wild carrot seeds. It also incorporates further seasonal wild greens available here in Cornwall in winter.

So if you're looking for a different twist on stuffing read on...

Wild carrot seeds is one of the wild foods I cover in my Wild Food Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly book. They should be avoided if pregnant.

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The Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family, also known as the Carrot family is a large family of plants, all with the similarity of umbels - think structure of an umbrella with a handle, spokes and canopy. There are some fantastic edibles within this family and also some deadly poisonous plants. A little foraging knowledge can be dangerous and this family needs to understood well and the plants respected.

Here are 8 wild foods within the umbellifer category (there are 18 edibles in total in this family). It goes without saying that this information is not enough to identify and use these wild foods. Though it is an introduction to them, with links to more information about the main plants I teach.

Introducing 8 umbellifers in flower

edible umbelliferae
Wild fennel just coming into flower

Wild Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

An aniseedy scented plant and a wonderful flavouring (unless you don't like fennel). It's a coastal plant in my foraging book where I share a fennel sorbet and fennel flower fritter recipe.

Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum)

A coastal plant that in the past was highly rated as a vegetable and for it's nutritional qualities. I've written about rock samphire as my favourite summer plant, shared a delicious salsa verde recipe for it, and recipe for pickled rock samphire. It is also in my foraging book.

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)

An invasive plant that I'm passionate about. I have a whole blog section dedicated to Alexanders and it's also in my foraging book.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A coastal that has spread inland. You need permission to dig up the (small and fibrous) roots. The seeds are edible but shouldn't be digested if you're pregnant. This plant is in my Foraging book where I share a Carrot Seed and Honey Cookie recipe. Extra info: I have used the summer flowers in a similar way to elderflowers and infused them for syrup - they have an unusual, subtle and carroty flavour!

Hogweed/Cow-weed (Heracleum sphondylium)

Also known as Common Hogweed (in comparison to Giant hogweed) is a common sight across the UK and Europe. I've previously shared recipes for it; Hogweed shoots in a cake, plus a vegan version of Pear and Hogweed Shoot Cake. I sing the praises for it as an alternative and superior asparagus. and even used the seeds to flavour meringue in an Apple Curd and meringue Pie recipe.

If you want a thorough introduction to the shoots, take a look at my hogweed shoots in spring blog and I also have a dahl and hogweed shoots recipe too.

Wild chervil (Cow parsley) in flower

Cow Parsley/Wild Chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris)

Often the first spring flower to appear. A very common hedgerow plant, the leaves can be eaten but should be avoided once the plant is in flower. However, before the flowers appear the leaves and stems can be eaten. I like the leaves in salads and the stalks simmered and added to sauces.

Pignut in flower

Pignut (Conopodium majus)

A delicate flowering plant, renown for the nuts (roots) that are tricky and (a little) rewarding to dig up as food. Not a nut at all, but a nutty flavour and texture of a fresh hazelnut.

Wild Celery (Apium graveolens)

I've rarely seen this in Cornwall, I photographed this one in Norfolk where I was excited to find it! A stringy plant, personally I prefer to use Alexanders (its predecessor).

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