The wild carrot is the original type of carrot known today. Wild carrot is one of the supposedly three stem plants of today’s carrots. In addition to the local species, people cross-breed Afghan and Mediterranean carrot species in antiquity. Finally, in the 18th century, the famous orange carrots were created. The carrot is named after the carrot blossom – a striking dark violet-blue to black point in the center of the white flower umbel. For insects the wild carrot is very popular. Wild bees, bugs, beetles and flies of all kinds visit the flowers and the caterpillars of the Old World swallowtail eat their fill.
Profile of wild carrot:
Scientific name: Daucus carota
Plant family: umbellifers, carrot family (Apiaceae)
Other names: bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, Queen Anne’s lace (North America)
Sowing time / Planting time: March – April; September – October
Flowering period: June – October
Harvest time: after Flowering, autumn or spring
Soil quality: dry, well drained and calcareous soils
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: regulation of blood sugar, diarrhea, concentration disorders, mild depression
Use as aromatic herb: use as carrot; carrot, seeds and leaves can be used
Plant characteristics and classification of wild carrot
Origin and occurrence of wild carrot
The wild carrot (Daucus carota subsp. Carota) is quite common in Europe, northern Africa and Turkey. The fact that the plant is relatively undemanding, they can be found in many locations, including open meadows, fallow land, ruderal sites and nutrient-rich shrubs. Where the plant occurs, it usually occurs in bigger amount. The wild carrot probably comes from the Middle East.
Plant order of wild carrot
In a systematic sense, wild carrot belongs to the plant of the order Umbelliflorae (Apiaceae) and is thus related to other herbs such as anise, dill or caraway. The genus Daucus consists of about 20 currently known species, of which the species Daucus carota probably belongs to the most important. This is subdivided into several subspecies again.
Look and characteristics of wild carrot
The wild carrot is a biennial, herbaceous plant that reaches heights of growth between 30 and 100 cm (12 and 40 in). The relatively thin taproots contain hardly any carotene and are therefore white instead of yellow-orange in contrast to the roots of the carrot. It forms upright, long-striped stems, which are occupied with protruding small hairs. The stems are branching abundantly. Like the carrot, it emits a typical carrot smell.
The leaves of wild carrot are two- to three-pinnate and have lanceolate, up to 3 cm (1.2 in) long leaflets. The pinnatipartite slotted leaves are reminiscent of the caraway and smell like carrots when rubbed between your fingers.
In the first year, the wild carrot forms a native rosette with multiple pinnate leaves. In the second year, from June to October, the showy flowers of the wild carrot appear. They sit together in dense white umbels and are up to 8 cm (3.15 in) wide. The double-leaved inflorescence is flat only when fully flowering. When blooming, humid weather and during fruit ripening, the umbel is dented in the middle and resembles a bird’s nest. The long bracts are pinnate in three parts.
Characteristic of wild carrot is the dark red to purple spot in the middle of the white inflorescence. Scientists suspect that the wild carrot has formed the dark spot in the middle of the white umbel as a kind of attraction-blossom. The fly dummy is intended to attract insects that settle on the flower and thus help the plant in its distribution. This peculiarity often leads to success: During the summer, the wild carrot attracts numerous insects and also belongs to the favorite food of the caterpillars of the Old World swallowtail.
Due to the dark spot, the wild carrot can be distinguished from other poisonous, but similar-looking umbelliferous plants such as the poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) or the fool´s parsley (Aethusa cynapium). In addition, the other plants do not have long and feathery bracts.
After the flower of the wild carrot develops a bird-nest-like infructescence. In this case, 3 to 4 mm (0.12 to 0.16 in) long, egg-shaped velvety fruits are formed, which disintegrate into two sub-fruits with flat spines.
Wild carrot – cultivation and care
The wild carrot grows well in sunny locations.
Wild carrot is relatively undemanding and adapts to many soil conditions. According to its natural distribution, the plant grows best on rather dry, well drained and calcareous soils.
Sow the seeds of the wild carrot best in the spring directly into the bed. As a cold germ, wild carrot needs a longer period of time for germination with low temperatures around 5 °C / 41 °F. For a wildflower meadow you can sow the seeds widely, otherwise a planting distance of about 40 cm (16 in) is recommended.
Keep the carrot moist enough to germinate and water the plant during prolonged periods of drought. Otherwise, no further care measures are necessary.
The wild carrot does not necessarily need fertilize, at best, fertilizing in the spring before the growing season. As a rule, fertilization with some compost or organic fertilizer is sufficient here.
The wild carrot can be propagated by sowing in the spring, but is also easily self-sowing.
Diseases and pests
Like cultured carrots, wild carrot can also be attacked by the carrot fly (Psila rosae). In general, the plant is insensitive to plant diseases and pests.
Use of wild carrot
Wild carrots as food are not found in supermarkets. Unlike in the past, when the wild carrot was eaten more frequently.
Wild carrots in the kitchen
The wild carrot is nowadays rarely on the menu, The carrots we know today have a much higher status than the wild carrot, which is why the latter are economically almost insignificant. Carrots are much easier to obtain than wild carrots.
Nevertheless, especially raw food eater and people who deal more with wild herbs, love wild carrots. In addition to the carrot growing underground, the seeds and leaves are also eaten. The taste of the wild carrot is quite comparable to the carrot, although a bit milder. If you want to eat it, the harvest should take place at the time when no flower is formed. In the first year, the carrot is still pleasant to the bite, in the second year with the flower formation, the wild carrot lignifies. Further, it gets more spicy in taste. In terms of color, the fruit of the wild carrot is reminiscent of parsley roots.
If you go on search for wild carrots, for example on meadows, there is a risk that the wild carrot can be confused with other white umbelliferae. Above all ashweed and the poisonous fool´s parsley, the likewise poisonous poison hemlock and bear’s breeches. At first glance, all look similar. However, there are two criteria that facilitate plant identification. On the one hand, the scent: Wild carrots exude an intense, authentic scent of carrots when the leaves are rubbed. The flowers smell like carrots. The poisonous plants poison hemlock and fool´s parsley, on the other hand, smell of urine in the form of ammonia. On the other hand, a feature of the flower provides information about the authenticity of wild carrots: the carrot blossom. On female plants, in the center of the white flower is a small, yet easily visible flower of almost black color. None of the other plants mentioned above has this plant feature.
Wild carrot as a medicinal herb
In ancient times, the wild carrot was considered a popular aphrodisiac, but was also used for menstrual problems and as deworming. Other popular and common indications were the treatment of ulcers, burns and chilblains.
In old herbal books it is recommended especially for the treatment of stomach disorders, flatulence and gallstones.
The wild carrot has been proven in the present time, a urine-flushing effect and a positive effect on the regulation of blood sugar and on the fight against diarrhea. For this, the carrot can either be eaten raw or cooked. To treat the urinary tract, the seeds are used for a draining tea.
Other known uses of the plant are in the treatment of concentration disorders and mild depression.
Buy Wild Carrot – What to pay attention to?
You can find wild carrots plants and seeds in online stores. Or you can harvest the plants in nature or grow in your own garden. The prices for the seeds and fresh plants are usually very affordable.