Daucus carota

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Wild Carrot
The umbel of a wild carrot
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Apiales
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Daucus
Species:D. carota
Binomial name
Daucus carota
L.
 
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Wild Carrot
The umbel of a wild carrot
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Apiales
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Daucus
Species:D. carota
Binomial name
Daucus carota
L.

Daucus carota (common names include wild carrot, (UK) bird's nest, bishop's lace, and Queen Anne's lace (North America)) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to temperate regions of Europe, southwest Asia and naturalised to North America and Australia; domesticated carrots are cultivars of a subspecies, Daucus carota subsp. sativus.

Daucus carota is a variable biennial plant, usually growing up to 1 m tall and flowering from June to August. The umbels are claret-coloured or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3–7 cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath; finally, as they turn to seed, they contract and become concave like a bird's nest. The dried umbels detach from the plant, becoming tumbleweeds.[1]

Similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock, Daucus carota is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center.

See carrot for the modern cultivated forms of the species.

Contents

Uses

Like the cultivated carrot, the wild carrot root is edible while young, but quickly becomes too woody to consume. The crushed seeds were once thought to be a form of birth control and its use for this purpose was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago.[citation needed] Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use—wild carrot was found to disrupt the ovum implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive.[original research?][2] Chinese studies have also indicated the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.[citation needed]

As with all herbal remedies and wild food gathering, extra caution should be used, especially since the wild carrot bears close resemblance to a dangerous species, poison hemlock. The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phytophotodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.

If used as a dyestuff, the flowers give a creamy, off-white color.

The wild carrot, when freshly cut, will draw or change color depending on the color of the water in which it is held. Note that this effect is only visible on the "head" or flower of the plant. Carnations also exhibit this effect. This occurrence is a popular science demonstration in primary grade school.

Beneficial weed

This beneficial weed can be used as a companion plant to crops. Like most members of the umbellifer family, it attracts wasps to its small flowers in its native land; however, where it has been introduced, it attracts only very few of such wasps . This species is also documented to boost tomato plant production when kept nearby, and it can provide a microclimate of cooler, moister air for lettuce, when intercropped with it.[citation needed]

Queen Anne's lace

Wild carrot was introduced and naturalised in North America, where it is often known as "Queen Anne's lace". Both Anne, Queen of Great Britain, and her great grandmother Anne of Denmark are taken to be the Queen Anne for which the plant is named.[3][4] It is so called because the flower resembles lace; the red flower in the center is thought to represent a blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle when she was making the lace. The function of the tiny red flower, coloured by anthocyanin, is to attract insects.

The USDA has listed it as a noxious weed,[5] and it is considered a serious pest in pastures. It persists in the soil seed bank for two to five years.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Herbert Waldron Faulkner (1917). The Mysteries of the Flowers. Frederick A. Stokes company. pp. 238. page 210
  2. ^ Chaudhury R (1993). "The quest for a herbal contraceptive.". Natl Med J India 6 (5): 199–201. PMID 8241931.
  3. ^ "Queen Ann's Lace". http://lace.lacefairy.com/Lace/Fun/QueenAnnsLace.html. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Dean M. Chriss (2007). "Queen Anne's Lace, A Short Photographic Study". Dean M. Chriss photography. http://www.dmcphoto.com/QueenAnnesLace.html. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  5. ^ "USDA PLANTS". PLANTS Profile for Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  6. ^ Clark, D. L.; Wilson, M. V. (2003). "Post-dispersal seed fates of four prairie species". American Journal of Botany 90 (5): 730. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.5.730. http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/90/5/730.

External links