Wild Carrot: As Creative Companion

Wild carrot, Daucus carota, is growing in direct sunlight all over the roadsides of Portland right now. I gathered a bunch of blossoms yesterday and tore them up and put them in a glass jar, filled it halfway with water and topped the rest with Everclear (190 proof vodka) to make a folk tincture. It’ll now cure in a dark closet for up to six weeks before it is ready for use as a plant medicine.

Historically in North America, the Mohegan, Delaware and Oklahoma people boiled wild carrot blossom tea to treat diabetes. But my interest in this tincture is more metaphysical. After all, there are medicines for healing the body’s wounds and then there are medicines for the soul — and for me, this is the latter.

carrot bouquet


At the Urban Foraging 101 class I led with Emily Porter last Sunday, our group meditated with a mystery tincture in the park. It was Emily’s turn to bring one she made. As I sat quietly with it, I felt energized with seemingly boundless amounts of creative ideas. Later, I learned that Emily had made the tincture of wild carrot blossoms, and I wasn’t surprised: They grow straight up to the sun with flowers wide open, a posture that can be interpreted as jubilant and receptive.

Also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, wild carrot is an edible root just like its conventional cohort; it is most tasty if dug up in the late fall or early spring. If you harvest it other times, you’ll find it to be tough and woody. It’s not necessarily worth harvesting, though, because it tends to be very small in the urban wilds — only about as thick or as tall as a pinky finger. The young stalks are also edible, best eaten in late spring or early summer.

Some people worry that wild carrot looks very similar to poison hemlock, but you can be sure you are correctly identifying the safe plant by touching the hairy stalks and feeling the fuzzy texture. Hemlock, by contrast, is smooth. For further reassurance, make sure you see a dark purple or black spot in the center of the blossom — only carrot has it.

Explore many more wild plants on the Search Plants! page.

16 thoughts on “Wild Carrot: As Creative Companion

    • I think you’re asking about bracts. The term “umbel” refers to the form of the flower itself, which spreads out. If you want to e-mail me a photo, or upload to it Flickr or Photobucket and reply here with a link, I could have a better idea of what you mean and what you’re looking at.

      • i’m referring to the little dark purple flower in the center. i had written that term down after watching someone’s video, as a way to differentiate wild carrot. don’t know if i misunterstood what i was watching, or misundersatnd my notes. either is very possible :-)

        i had been under the impression that the purple flower was necessary to identify wild carrot. i’ve been confused by all the plants with hairy stems and no purple flower. hope you can set me straight. thanks!

    • Aha, now I see what you mean. Yes, often wild carrot doesn’t have the little purple flower in the center. In those cases, as long as it’s still got a hairy stem and everything else is the same, it’s still wild carrot.

  1. I today saw wild carrot again. this time at a more refuse wild cleaner plce.the root was very fibery. so better to harvest the root in spring. How to indetify the root in spring? Another thing is if the native american tribes used it for diabetes it has to bepastthe contact to the white?! and this mean that it has had a different meaning before. What do you think on the thinks sisterzeus written last years as natural contraception. Does it work. Does Queen Anns lace work. Or does it work if the person is pure or in special circles.? Do you know anything on natural contraception and quue anns lace. aka wild carrot MC.

    i wish you could make a song together you alina hardin emily becky, maybe others or even alela diane and the song is called wild carrot.

    Emily seem to have always a mystery tincture i wish i would be in portland. and i wish i would be more strong to participate all your circles. im a bit overwhelmed by all this and fascinated how you deal with all this stuff. portland seem to be a little island. i feel you only surive with this island in the us.

    sadly i forgot on the hairy. i remember now emilys video. its great. i have so much questions. does it has a fidderent medical potency when its coming form europe or the united states.

  2. hi Rebecca,

    im bit desperate with this different kinds simliar to wildcarrot. Ive one it smells like wildcarrot, thropugh the way it dont flower here. i was in north finlnad tromsø and a bit more south. There are quite a lot simliar plants which can be maybe poisonous. Sometimes i dont find info about poisonings, in other book they write it. I identify wild carrot in other places it was quite easy espacially when it flowers or the dried seed, here its hard. I dont think people have the poison hamcock here. Still there is some other plants who is poisonous. A lot of plants are poisonous or have through contamination with other synthetich insutrial substances irritating reaction on personal bodys and spirits.

    I sometimes get heavy symptomes changing my diet on wild plants. i try a lot. a specuialy confussing in my mind happening. I more feel not just taking a substance make it. its more a social part. The body has a mechanism like a homoepathic paharacy in my view. If something is poisonous it can regulate it through symptoms and reaction, throwing up, spiting, drinking water, mixing with other plants or foods change the meaning of the plants. Or if people take a plant alone or with other people together. It a bit confusing my writing again.

    What i tell, is that the circumstance are sometimes stronger than the power of any plant. What happen is kind of confussion. Its my personal feeling, not scientific proofed.

    In general people have to have a special healing soul and spirit to get on wild diet. Its to strong and very confusing havving rebeling and revolting plant spirits insight one self.

    maybe someone understand.

  3. :: the Mohegan, Delaware and Oklahoma people ::

    There is/was no people known as the Oklahoma: Oklahoma is the Choctaw translation of ‘Indian Territory’, which was the U.S. political-geographic subdivision that later became the Oklahoma Territory.

    This info about diabetes was pulled from Moerman’s Native American Ethnobiography, yes? In which case, “Delaware, Oklahoma” refers to the Lenape (Delaware) people who now live in Oklahoma (distinguished from the other Lenape cited in the book, who now live in Ontario, or from the uncited Lenape who live in Wisconsin and New Jersey).

    • Sanguinity,

      Yes, the info is from Daniel E. Moerman’s “Native American Ethnobotany.” Thank you for your insights! Where can I learn more?

      • Ethnobotany, yes, sorry.

        Moerman has some info in the front matter about the names he uses, and who is meant by them. Usually he uses whatever name the original source used, and as he notes, many of those names aren’t what the respective peoples prefer for themselves, and some are outright insults. I don’t generally recommend Wikipedia for Native American topics (Eurocentric and anthropology-centric bias persists in many of those articles, and many peoples are inappropriately spoken of in the past tense), but even at its worst, Wikipedia is still usually good for peoples’ own names for themselves and links to the tribes’ websites.

        For a discussion of some of the issues concerning ethnobotanical sources, I recommend Wendy Makoons Geniusz, Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings. The review at the link summarizes better than I can; a preview is available through Google books.

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