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Daucus carota (wild carrot)

Wild carrot has delicate white flower heads and a thin, wiry taproot bearing little resemblance to the fleshy, bright orange root vegetable produced commercially.
Daucus carota (wild carrot) inflorescence

Daucus carota (wild carrot) inflorescence (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Daucus carota L.

Common name: 

wild carrot, carrot, Queen Anne’s lace, bird’s nest, devil’s plague

Conservation status: 

Widespread and not considered to be threatened.

Habitat: 

Rough grassland, coastal cliffs and dunes.

Key Uses: 

Food and drink.

Known hazards: 

Wild carrot has some medical properties and is similar in appearance to poisonous species such as poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) and fool's parsley (Aethusa cynapium).

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Apiales
Family: 
Apiaceae
Genus: Daucus

About this species

Wild carrot is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae), which includes parsnip, parsley, fennel and angelica.

Wild forms have thin, wiry taproots, bearing little resemblance to the bright orange, fleshy root vegetable available commercially, although both share the characteristic carrot fragrance. Delicate white flower heads are produced after the second year of growth, and these have inspired the common name Queen Anne’s lace.

The orange colour of cultivated carrots is due to a high concentration of beta-carotene. This is a precursor of vitamin A, which is important for growth, development and good vision. This link between carrots and good eye health probably gave rise to the common suggestion to children reluctant to eat their vegetables – eating carrots will help you to see in the dark!

Medicinal Uses

The spiny fruits have been considered to have diuretic properties and have been used in the treatment of kidney complaints and dropsy.

Synonym: 

Carota sylvestris (Mill.) Rupr., Caucalis carnosa Roth (a full list is available on The Plant List)

Genus: 
Daucus

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