Wild Carrot Overview
Daucus carota is the wild form of the commonly cultivated carrot. It is commonly known by the names wild carrot, bird's nest, bishop's lace, and Queen Anne's lace in North America. Domesticated carrots have the latin name Daucus carota ssp. sativus, these have evolved from wild carrot, Daucus carota and are now extensively grown worldwide. Domestication is thought to have occurred in China, over 1000 years ago. Historically purple, yellow and red carrots were the only forms to be cultivated before the 15-16th century. It is only in modern times that we expect carrots to be orange. Daucus carota is a herbaceus biennial plant from the carrot family, Apiaceae and it produces a characteristic edible taproot. This ranges in size, shape and colour across different varieties. Purple, white and yellow carrots are commonly grown for consumption along with the orange domesticated carrot. Typically it grows between 30-60cm tall, producing finely divided, hairy foliage which has a lacy appearance, foliage is broadly triangular in shape and alternately arranged on stems. Flowers are arranged in flattened structures called umbels, these measure approximately 8-10cm across. An umbel is a cluster of stems which radiate from a central point, producing flowers on stalks of roughly equal length, to form a flattened or slightly rounded, horizontal surface of flowers. They are white in colour and umbel arrangements are characteristic of the carrot family, Apiaceae. Blooms may open from pinkish buds and sometimes have a red or purple flower in the centre of the umbel. Flowering occurs from mid-summer through to autumn and wild carrot is known to support a huge range of pollinating insects including butterflies, bees, beetles and hoverflies. This plant is a good choice for informal borders and wildflower gardens. Flowers lead onto flattened, oval fruits which are covered in hooked spines. After flowers are spent, the umbel dries up, detaches from the plant and becomes tumbleweed.