Bird’s nest is an alternate name for Queen Anne’s Lace, so called because of the way the stems rise upward to form a cup-shaped basket as the seed heads ripen, reminding some of a bird’s nest. The flower heads are flat-topped and as dainty as any fine lace; the foliage fine-cut and bright green. A single purple floret lies in the center of many, but not all, of the flowers.
Some botanists believe that this central purple floret acts as decoy to attract insects to pollinate the flowers. It’s said that many insects will automatically be lured to the dark-colored flower and I’ve found crab spiders patiently waiting there for their next meal to arrive.
If the crab spiders have come recently from yellow flowers they will be light yellow and adorned with faint pink markings. After a few days on the white lacy flowers they gradually turn white, also with pink markings, to match perfectly the white “umbrellas” with their purple centers, near to where they are waiting for their next victims’ arrival.
These pics were taken in the meadow at Deep Cut Gardens, but Queen Anne’s Lace can be found now along many a roadside. I’ll sometimes grow it in pots at home, afraid to set it loose in any of the gardens because it reseeds so freely. Queen Anne’s Lace has quite a few lookalikes, many of them deadly poisonous, so be very careful of sampling the root of any plant you suspect to be this wild carrot.