Queen Anne’s Lace: Matricidal Tendencies

Queen Anne's Lace
Queen Anne’s Lace is my favorite noxious weed. And I mean that without sarcasm. I think it is a very pretty flower, it just happens to be a bully, is all.

Queen Anne’s Lace’s name, as many people know, is derived from one of the two Queen Anne’s (Queen Anne of England and Anne of Denmark) that have been among the British Royalty. Both women were reputed to be champion lace makers. While the legend waffles as to which Anne the plant is named for, both versions are pretty certain that whoever she was, she pricked her finger and a drop of blood is responsible for the distinctive tiny purple center of a Queen Anne’s Lace flower.

One of the lesser know superstitions about Queen Anne’s Lace is that if you bring it in your house, it will kill your mother. How that’s for gratitude? Show a plant a little love and it goes off stalking your mom.

Because of this superstition, Queen Anne’s Lace is also commonly (but less frequently) known as Mother Die.

Turns out though that the superstition may not have been all that far off. The leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace are toxic. Queen Anne’s Lace is a member of the carrot family and is frequently also called a Wild Carrot. It also looks startlingly similar to several kinds of hemlock. It would not be too much of a stretch to the imagination to believe that some unwitting person cooked up a whole Queen Anne’s Lace (or what they thought was Queen Anne’s Lace) to feed to their beloved, elderly mother and found her dead as a doornail in the morning. What have we learned from this, kids? Don’t go eating things in the woods unless you are 100% sure of what you have.

But there may be another reason Queen Anne’s Lace has a matricidal reputation. It was a medieval RU-486. The seeds of Queen Anne’s Lace are both a contraceptive and an abortifacient. Perhaps the superstition is just a twist on the whole idea that the ‘mother’ it killed was not a person but rather the thing that would have made a woman a mother.

Okay, okay. So it is a noxious weed, rumored to have killed little old ladies and performs back alley abortions in its spare time. Nobody said that all flowers were perfect.

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