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Wild Carrot

Daucus carota

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
75 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
Our only white umbellifer with forked bracts emerging from beneath the flower. Umbel up to 7cm, folding inwards while in fruit. Often with a red flower in the centre.
The fruit is a distinctive cup-shaped, hooked and spiny umbel. The fruit can cling to the fur of passing animals and clothing, thus scattering the seeds far and wide to new locations.
The leaves of the wild carrot (Daucus carota) in the UK are pinnately divided and feathery, resembling fern fronds. They consist of multiple leaflets that are finely dissected, giving them a lacy or fern-like appearance. The leaves grow in a rosette during the plant's first year, with a series of finely divided segments radiating from a common point. As the plant matures into its second year, it sends up a flowering stem from this rosette of leaves.
The aroma of the wild carrot's roots, known as taproots, in the UK is distinctly carroty. When crushed or bruised, the roots emit a fragrance reminiscent of carrots, albeit with a slightly more earthy or herbal undertone. This aroma is particularly noticeable when handling or breaking the roots of the wild carrot plant.
Other Names:
Bees' Nest, Bird's Nest, Bird's Nest Root, Bird's Nest Weed, Bishop's Lace, Bishop's Weed, Devil's Plague, Garden Carrot, Goutweed, Greater Ammi, Large Bullwort, Queen Anne's Lace.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Daucus carota, also known as wild carrot or queen anne's lace, is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is widely cultivated for its edible roots, which are known as carrots. The plant is known for its small, white or pink flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in well-drained soil and is often found in gardens, fields, and along roadsides. Daucus carota is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. In the first year, the plant produces a rosette of leaves, and in the second year it produces a tall stem with flowers and seeds. The roots of Daucus carota are edible and are commonly eaten raw or cooked. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Wild Carrot, also known as Queen Anne's Lace, is a biennial plant species of the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and is widely distributed in temperate regions throughout the world. The plant is recognized by its delicate, lacy white flowers that grow in an umbrella-like shape on top of a tall stem.

The Wild Carrot plant has a long history of use for both medicinal and culinary purposes. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, skin irritation, and menstrual cramps. The root of the plant is also edible and has been used as a vegetable for centuries.

The Wild Carrot is also a valuable source of nutrients. It contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium. In addition, it contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Despite its benefits, the Wild Carrot should be consumed in moderation as it can cause skin irritation and even severe reactions in some people. Furthermore, it is important to note that some parts of the plant, such as the seeds and leaves, contain high levels of compounds that are toxic to humans and animals if consumed in large quantities.

Wild Carrot is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary benefits. Although it should be consumed in moderation due to its potential side effects, it is a valuable source of nutrients and compounds with health-promoting properties.

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, the Wild Carrot has also been used for ornamental purposes. Its delicate white flowers and tall stems make it a popular choice for flower arrangements and garden displays. The plant's unique appearance and ease of cultivation have made it a favorite among gardeners and landscapers.

Despite its widespread use, the Wild Carrot is considered an invasive species in some areas. In the United States, for example, it has naturalized in many areas and has the potential to displace native plant species. Gardeners and landscapers are encouraged to use caution when planting the Wild Carrot, and to consider planting alternative species that are less likely to spread and become invasive.

Another interesting fact about the Wild Carrot is that it is the ancestor of the domesticated carrot. Wild Carrot plants have been cultivated for thousands of years, and over time, selective breeding has resulted in the development of the sweeter and more tender varieties of carrots that we know today.

Finally, it is important to note that the Wild Carrot should not be confused with Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), a highly toxic plant that is often mistaken for Wild Carrot. Poison Hemlock has similar-looking leaves and stems, but its flowers are much smaller and grow in clusters rather than in an umbrella shape.

The Wild Carrot is a fascinating plant with a long history of use for medicinal, culinary, and ornamental purposes. However, due to its potential to become invasive, it is important to use caution when planting and harvesting the plant, and to be aware of the differences between Wild Carrot and Poison Hemlock.

In addition to its ornamental and practical uses, Wild Carrot is also an important source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. The delicate white flowers are a popular source of food for these important insects, and the plant's long flowering period provides a steady source of nectar throughout the summer.

Wild Carrot is also a valuable food source for wildlife, such as deer and rabbits, who feed on the leaves and stems of the plant. This is an important factor to consider for gardeners and landowners who are looking to establish a wildlife-friendly habitat.

The Wild Carrot is relatively easy to grow, and it prefers well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade. It is important to note that the plant is drought-tolerant and can become invasive in certain conditions, so it is important to monitor its growth and keep it under control.

In addition, Wild Carrot is relatively low-maintenance, and requires minimal care once it is established. The plant will self-seed and come back year after year, providing a constant source of beauty and practical benefits.

It is worth mentioning that the Wild Carrot is a hardy and resilient plant that can withstand harsh conditions, such as cold temperatures and strong winds. This makes it a great choice for gardeners and landowners in areas with challenging weather conditions.

Wild Carrot is a versatile and useful plant that offers a wide range of benefits. Its delicate white flowers, easy-to-grow nature, and value as a food source for both pollinators and wildlife make it an excellent choice for gardeners, landowners, and anyone looking to establish a wildlife-friendly habitat.

In addition to its ornamental, culinary and medicinal uses, Wild Carrot has also been used in traditional folk remedies and practices. For example, in Europe, the plant was used to ward off evil spirits and to protect against witchcraft. In some cultures, the dried stems of Wild Carrot were used as a "wish-granting" tool, and the plant was believed to bring good luck and prosperity.

Wild Carrot is also rich in folklore and superstition, and its delicate white flowers have been the subject of many myths and legends throughout history. For example, the plant is said to have originated from a drop of milk from the Virgin Mary, which fell from her breast and turned into a Wild Carrot plant.

The Wild Carrot plant is also known for its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions, and it has been used as an indicator of changing seasons and weather patterns. In some cultures, the plant is associated with the arrival of summer and is used as a symbol of warmth, light, and life.

Another interesting fact about Wild Carrot is that it has been used as a dye plant for centuries. The plant's roots contain high levels of pigments, and when crushed, they release a yellowish-orange dye that can be used to color cloth and other materials.

In conclusion, Wild Carrot is not just a useful and beautiful plant, it is also steeped in folklore and tradition, and its presence has been associated with good luck, protection, and prosperity throughout history. Whether used for practical or decorative purposes, or simply enjoyed for its beauty, Wild Carrot is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

20 Facts About the Wild Carrot

Here are 20 interesting facts about wild carrot (Daucus carota):

  1. Biennial Plant: Wild carrot is a biennial plant, meaning it completes its life cycle over two years.
  2. Umbel Structure: Its flowers are arranged in an umbrella-like cluster called an umbel.
  3. Botanical Name: Daucus carota is the scientific name for wild carrot.
  4. Edible Roots: The taproots of wild carrot are edible, though smaller and more bitter than cultivated carrots.
  5. Leaves: The leaves of wild carrot are feathery and finely divided, resembling fern fronds.
  6. Invasive Species: In some regions, wild carrot is considered an invasive species due to its aggressive growth habits.
  7. Cultural Significance: Also known as Queen Anne's Lace, its flower heads have cultural significance and are associated with various folklore.
  8. Naturalized Plant: Originally from Europe, wild carrot has naturalized in many parts of the world.
  9. Habitat: It thrives in dry fields, meadows, roadsides, and disturbed areas.
  10. Biological Control: The parasitic wasp, D. carotae, is known to feed on wild carrot seeds, assisting in its control.
  11. Root Aroma: The roots emit a distinct carroty scent, especially when crushed or bruised.
  12. Similar Species: Wild carrot can resemble poisonous plants such as water hemlock, so accurate identification is crucial.
  13. Medicinal Uses: Historically, wild carrot was used for various medicinal purposes, from diuretic to aphrodisiac properties.
  14. Attracts Beneficial Insects: The flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to local ecosystems.
  15. Lifecycle: In its first year, wild carrot forms a rosette of leaves and then develops its flowering stalk in the second year.
  16. Seed Dispersal: The seeds have tiny hooked spines, aiding in their dispersal by clinging to fur or clothing.
  17. Culinary Applications: While smaller and tougher than cultivated carrots, the root is occasionally used in pickling or for flavoring.
  18. Cultural Symbolism: The flower heads have been associated with purity, fertility, and feminine energy in various cultures.
  19. Herbalism: In herbal medicine, wild carrot has been used for various purposes, including digestive issues and kidney health.
  20. Historical Significance: Ancient Greeks and Romans used wild carrot seeds as a contraceptive and to induce menstruation.

These facts shed light on the varied aspects of wild carrot, encompassing its ecological role, cultural significance, and historical uses.


Wild Carrot filmed at the following locations:
  • Adlington, Lancashire: 5th and 6th July 2023
  • Ainsdale, Lancashire: 15th July 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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