Mountain Men could be pretty grizzly and grumpy without a cup of coffee! Once they were out of their grubstake, it was time to live off the land. That meant that they needed to shop around the fields and woods for supper!
Coffee could be created by roasting and crushing the roots of Queen Anne’s Lace! This concoction made for a nice infusion that had similar properties to real coffee or Chicory. Civil War soldiers and pioneers would also harvest these plants, in a pinch, to supplement their brewing and dietary needs.
Queen Anne’s Lace is one of the many plants that are readily available in the wild for consumption. Today, many of these useful plants are considered “noxious weeds”! Like Dandelions, early peoples brought Queen Anne’s Lace, across the “Big Water” to support their diets in the New World. The dried seed clusters store easily and readily sprout. Once established, they are hard to remove.
Queen Anne’s Lace is a relative of the Wild Carrot and similar to a parsnip. This biennial plant is found throughout the world in fields and grasslands. Always be sure that you can accurately identify any wild plant that you plan to consume or use. Foraging on these Noxious Weeds is a great way to remove them.
Poison Hemlock is a toxic plant that looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace. This is what Socrates drank to kill himself! Once you can identify both plants, it is very easy to see the difference. Queen Anne’s Lace has hairy stems and the roots smell like carrots. They are also more common in the summer and fall while the Poison Hemlock is a spring flower. Most Queen Anne’s Lace has a red dot in the center of the flower but native plants do not.
This beautiful and unique plant was named after Queen Anne of Britain during the late 1600’s. She was a wonder seamstress and known for her detailed embroidery. The flower of Queen Anne’s Lace mimics an embroidered doily that has a red dot in the middle. Supposedly, the Queen was in a hurry to hear about the New World and pricked her finger. The blood is the red dot.
Early Native peoples and settlers utilized the native plants in many ways. The roots can be boiled and eaten. Frying the flower clusters is considered a delicacy! Place the fried flowers on top of your mashed potatoes at hunting camp. Some boiled roots will add a carrot flavor to the meal.
Leaves and stems can cause skin irritations especially when wet. I avoid messing with these parts but like nettles, they too are edible. Roots are most tender in the younger plants. The larger and older roots can be peeled or dried for future use or to make coffee. The mini-carrot like roots are small but usually abundant and readily available.
Early peoples also used Queen Anne’s Lace as a “Morning After” contraceptive! Pregnant women should avoid this plant. There is scientific evidence to support this claim!
Chemicals in Queen Anne’s Lace also act as a diuretic and stimulate the flow of urine, cleansing of the kidneys, and acts as an antiseptic. Used as a poultice, these smashed and moistened roots can treat snakebites or open wounds.
Whether brewed as a tea, coffee, garnish, or carrot side dish, Queen Anne’s Lace is another great addition into the Camp Cooks surprise ingredients!
Pour me another cup!
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