This month’s Outdoor Hour Challenge nature study theme is Wildflowers and Weeds. Although we got a jump start on wildflowers with our study last month, we are quite happy to continue with this theme as the British countryside, byways and highways are teaming with an abundance of wildflowers.
We didn’t have far to go to find the subject of our nature study – just a short walk to the end of the garden. Against the fence at the foot of the tree line, Queen Anne’s Lace is flourishing, pushing its way forward.
Queen Anne’s Lace is in abundance along the roadsides and hedgerows in England at the moment. I was interested to read in the Handbook of Nature Study that this plant does better in the States than here in Europe. I’m not sure about the mainland, but here in England, it seems to be doing just fine and I struggle to see how it could do any better.
So after settling down on the grass with the warm sunshine beating down on our backs, we read together about this plant.
Here’s what we learnt…
- We know this plant as ‘Cow Parsley’ in England. Other names are Queen Anne’s Lace, Hedge Parsley, Wild Chervil
- Cow Parsley is an Umbellifer. That is – a plant with a showy cluster of flowers that forms an umbrella shape
- Its leaf is fern-like
- Cow Parsley has a hollow stem
- According to The Wildlife Trusts, Cow Parsley is collectively known as Queen Anne’s Lace.
- Cow Parsley is one of several common members of the carrot family
- Cow Parsley is NOT TO BE CONFUSED with the deadly Hemlock plant which is very similar. You can tell the difference by the scarlet splotches that are on the Hemlock plant’s stem and the distinctive smell of the plant’s leaves which apparently smell like old mice nests – yuck!
We chatted a bit about how the famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, was executed by means of a Hemlock potion – see how one thing can lead to another? LOL
Next we found a poem in our Favorite Poems Old and New and read it together. Miss V-L and I copied it into our nature journals, Miss J-L chose just to draw her Cow Parsley – remember, this is my reluctant journaler. We spent some time painting our finds in our journals.
then Miss J-L disappeared to the house and came back with tea! What a treat.
I’ll leave you with the poem that we found and included in our journals…
Queen Anne’s Lace
by Mary Leslie Newton
Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has washed her lace
(She chose a summer day)
And hung it in a grassy place
To whiten, it may.
Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has left it there,
And slept the dewy night;
Then waked, to find the sunshine fair,
And all the meadows white.
Queen Anne, Queen Anne, is dead and gone
(She died a summer’s day),
But left her lace to whiten on
Each weed-entangled way!