During the first year, the rosette is bushy and mounded, 4 to 6 inches tall and up to 18 inches in diameter. During the second year, flowering stalks emerge and commonly grow 2 to 4 feet in height. Leaves are alternate, finely dissected, and pubescent. Wild carrot forms a deep, whitish tap root. When crushed, both the foliage and root release a carrot-like odor.
Wild carrot has small white flowers, each with 5 petals. Flowers are held in clusters called umbels, and each umbel contains many individual flowers. Often there are one or more purple tinged flowers in the center of the 3-5 inch umbel. Flat shaped umbels form at the terminal end of flower stalks. Upon ripening of seeds, umbels often close up.
Favorable environment notes:
Wild carrot is commonly found in areas of sandy or gravelly soils. It prefers relatively undisturbed sites such as pastures, meadows and Christmas tree plantings; however, it will take hold in cultivated crops if seeds sources are present. It can also be problematic in non-crop areas such as ditches, roadsides and field edges.
Seeds are typically 1/8 to 3/16 in. long with one relatively flat side and one rounded ribbed side. Mature seeds have barbed prickles which allow them to cling to clothing, animals or anything aiding in their dissemination. Seeds can remain on plant after it dies, falling during the winter months. Germination occurs the following spring.
Wild carrot is also called Queen Anne’s lace. It was introduced here from Europe. Its lacy leaves were used for several centuries as accents in headdresses and bouquets. On a more scientific note, wild carrot is the genetic source for our common edible carrot.