Tom's Blog

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Queen Anne's lace time

Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is in full flower now, the perfect time to control it. We find it mainly in our newer planted prairies, with occasional isolated plants in some of the savannas or older prairies. Some people don't worry about this plant, rationalizing that it will eventually go away on its own. However, our experience is that it must be controlled, especially in the early stages of a prairie planting, or in areas where it is heavy.

Like so many other biennial weeds, hand pulling is the method of choice. For smaller plants or when the ground is moist, simply pulling by hand works fine. For larger plants, or when the soil is dry, the Parsnip Predator shovel is needed to dig down and cut the root, after which the plant can be pulled. Because this is a fairly slow process, another approach in major infestations is to simply cut the stem at the soil base with the shovel, an activity analogous to mowing. Finally, for major infestations, especially in the first or second year of a prairie planting, mowing with a tractor, riding lawn mower, or brush cutter can be done. However, mowing should only be a desperation move, as it will also seriously set back all the native plants.

This year our main infestation is in the Ridge Prairie, a dry mesic site now in its fourth growing season. Because there are so many "good" plants present, mowing is not an option, so we dug or hand pulled. Fortunately, yesterday was "intern day", so Marci, Amanda, and I worked with the five interns. It took us about three hours to "clean up" this 2 acre prairie.

Another common name for this species is "wild carrot", and domesticated carrots are cultivars of the wild species. In fact, the roots of wild carrot are edible when young, although I don't recommend them.


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