Daucus v. Cicuta July 8, 2010Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
Tags: Cicuta virosa, Daucus carota, death by suffocation, poison hemlock, queen anne's lace, Socrates, spider, wasp, wild carrot
That would be Daucus carota, or wild carrot, compared to Cicuta virosa, commonly referred to as poison hemlock.
Yeah, that Socrates stuff.
They’re very similar looking plants on the outside, but that’s where the similarity ends.
In fact one, “wild Carrot,” also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, has a tap root which is edible and delicious. Unfortunately for many people each year, poison hemlock has a similar tap root containing a respiratory depressant, a paralytic in fact, which results in the deaths of its hapless ingesters by suffocation as their diaphragms stops doing their jobs.
Fortunately, Wild Carrot has a calling card which helps to safely identify it: a tiny red flower in the middle of its white umbel:
This one is a typical dark blood-red, and the young umbel is still in-curled; when fully open it will present a broad dome of complex white flower clusters, something like this:
…but this last shot is conspicuously lacking a central red blossom; in fact, it’s a Cicuta, or poison hemlock. They’re similar enough that one need stop the car and get out to ascertain their identities.
One thing they seem to have in common is that they’re nearly all inhabited by tiny tenants. Perhaps it’s because so many, many flowers are arrayed in this particular geometry, all facing the same way, all within lazy walking distance of each other, so that one need not even raise a wing to get from here to there, but at any rate, they’re a favorite of pollinators, like this quarter-inch long wasp:
And, you know, where the sheep graze, wolves will congregate:
I think this half-inch spider’s gonna trump that quarter-inch wasp.
But hey, I’m just a dumb human, so what do I know?