[Read more in this about the multifarious deliciousness of this hyper-abundant but somehow disregarded edible, particularly its furry stems and young leaves, in this Hogweed article.]
Seeds are papery, flat, with a midway line that ends in a sort of kissing lock between the two halves of the disc.
It’s a spicy, bitter, herbal, orange-y flavour with intriguing breadth and length; a hard one to describe, but many a Botanist bartenders’ new favourite discovery for tincturing / flavouring salt / making syrup / baking…
Otherwise known as Queen Anne’s lace, [see more in this Daucus carota article from Andrew McFarlane @sourcekitchen] these seeds should be avoided if you are pregnant. Its distinguishing visual features are the way the seedhead pulls inwards to form a ‘birds nest’, the three-forked leaves that peel back from the base of the heads like plumage, and its hairy stem which always makes me recall Ellen Zachos’ aide memoire: ‘The Queen has hairy legs’.
Wild carrot seeds are relatively small and covered in stiff short hairs on all but one smooth side, like little bugs. The taste is fragrant and, to me, great straight off the plant; citrus peel and kerosene-anise tones with a slightly numbing effect like you get with celery (from the eugenol, apparently). Finding / knowing this one is like the star prize to me; it’s so complex and fruity and refined in comparison with its cultivated cousin the carrot.
The leaves for all three are quite different, if any of the next year’s growth can be found around the feet of the skeletons bearing seeds above.
When I slow down to pull into the distillery carpark, and actually stick the car into reverse because I think I’ve seen a wild carrot seedhead bouncing about in that anonymous verge, on a road that formerly meant next to nothing to me, I wonder, have I started working on The Botanist, or has The Botanist started working on me?