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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - June 15, 2007

From: Meadowlakes, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Identification of Daucus pusillus, native alternative to Daucus carota
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

What happened to "Queen Anne's Lace"? Growing up in Texas, I recall seeing "Queen Anne's Lace" growing wild. In my mind, the blooms were rather large. The plants I see growing profusely along the highways and byways today are smaller.

ANSWER:

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is a widely naturalized Eurasian native. It is both beloved for it's graceful and elegant flowers and reviled for its invasive nature. It was once common to see this species planted in gardens, but the species more sinister side has caused it to fall from favor with many enlightened gardeners. It is gradually dying out along Texas roadsides, but is very well-established in other parts of the country.

The plant you've been seeing in profusion is Queen Anne's Lace's American cousin, Daucus pusillus (American wild carrot), which is native across the southern half of the United States. Its flowers are similar, but smaller and less showy than its problematic relative.

 

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