Queen Anne’s Lace

This time of year, Queen Anne’s Lace blooms in the pastures and fields back home in Haywood County. Delicate white doily flower heads dot every hill as far as the eye can see.

I’m sure many have seen the sight across various landscapes. The hairy-legged beauty can be found in 48 states.

I believed the plant was native until recently. It turns out this queen is an invasive weed. She made her way to the New World with early European settlers, who used her medicinally.

Colonists used the wild carrot as a contraceptive, an antiseptic, and to treat everything from colic to epilepsy. They also used the flowers to produce a natural yellow dye.

I can’t help thinking of Mamaw when I see it growing wild up the hills and down through the hollers back in Haywood County.

As a little girl, I walked up the mountain with Mamaw every day to check on the cattle. As she scanned the fenceline and monitored the herd, I gathered wildflowers. My favorite posies were made up entirely of Queen Anne’s Lace.

According to Mamaw, the flower is named after Queen Anne, who set out to create lace as beautiful as a flower. While tatting, she pricked her finger with a needle, leaving a drop of blood in the center of the lace. Which is why there are red florets in the center of every bloom.

Mamaw liked the lacy flowers too, but she never allowed me to bring them into the house. She swore they were full of chiggers — and worse: bad luck. Sometimes called “mother die,” superstition says if you bring it into the house, your mama will die.

That stuck with me over the years. I can’t think of a single time that I’ve ever brought Queen Anne’s Lace inside.

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