Everyone knows about Poison Oak and Poodle Dog but not too many people are familiar with Queen Anne’s Lace (daucus carota). For those of you who are familiar with Queen Anne’s Lace, you may be wondering what the big deal is. And honestly, for most of you, coming in contact with Queen Anne’s Lace will not affect you in the least. However, for others, this beautiful, lacy weed will make you wish you only had Poison Oak and Poodle Dog at the same time.
How I met Queen Anne’s Lace
I came in contact with it a while back in an unfortunate accident. I was lucky, I only got a small patch of it on my right arm, but it was very uncomfortable. It was bubbly and it itched like crazy. The rash stuck around for about a month before my arm finally started to look normal. I was very thankful it was only a small patch.
Fast forward a year and half later… somehow I ended up in a huge field of Queen Anne’s Lace while tumbling down a mountainside with my bike. Fortunately, my bike was not damaged and I was ok too…or so I thought. Four days later, I noticed some itchy bumps on my legs. I knew immediately it was not Poodle Dog or Poison Oak. I was afraid it was the dreaded Queen Anne’s Lace and I was unfortunately correct.
How does it feel?
The itch is depressingly unbearable and gross. You don’t just feel itchy, your skin starts to blister and ooze. You’re left with a rash that looks like you were a burn victim. And it spreads. Everywhere. And it lasts. Forever.
Ok- enough with the drama, it did spread to a lot of different body parts so I suspect scratching is not a good idea. Also it lasted for approx 6 weeks (which felt like forever). The core of the blisters and itch lasted about 4 weeks (which felt even longer than forever). There’s not a lot of literature on the toxic nature of Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s even touted as a beneficial weed on some websites. It was once used as a form of birth control. I can totally believe that; who in their right mind would want to touch you with blisters erupting and oozing all over your body? It’s also known as the Wild Carrot and the roots are edible while young. However, caution is advised against eating the root. Apparently many people have died from eating what they thought was a wild carrot, but in fact, was poison Hemlock. In academic circles, they call that “Pulling a Socrates’s Brother.” (He wasn’t as philosophical, smart or well-known, but he was hungry)
Again, for most, contact with the dastardly weed will produce no ill-effects, but for those in the minority, this little gem of a weed will knock you on your butt for weeks. For those of us who are allergic to the plant, we’re allergic to the compounds in the leaves. Add a dash of sunshine and some fingernails, and voila! Instant recipe for misery (and as noted above, celibacy). Phytophotodermatitis. Google it.
In the meantime, let’s browse the family photo album. Take a gander at my Queen Anne’s Leg.
Not so bad you say. You’re right. This was 2 weeks in and I thought I had weathered the storm nicely and the worst was over. Oh little did I know that Queen Anne is a bitch, an angry, bitter bitch. Look at the picture again, but now imagine my entire leg covered in a red, festering, blister. One large oozing blister. I couldn’t take a picture of it at the worst because it was too graphic. I looked like a burned corpse.
What does it look like?
How does one avoid Queen Anne’s Lace? Stay inside and don’t accept gifts with little white flowers in the arrangement. Or you could just study the leaves below and avoid them on your hikes or bike rides.