CARROT. Wild carrot, Daucus Carota, a member of the family Umbelliferae, grows wild in fields and on roadsides and sea-shores in Britain and the north temperate zone generally of the Old World. It has become naturalized as a weed in the United States, where it is a pest in many sections. It is an annual and resembles the cultivated carrot, except in the root, which is thin and woody. It is the origin of the cultivated carrot, which can be developed from it in a few generations. In the cultivated carrot, during the first season of growth, the stem remains short and bears a rosette of graceful, long stalked, branched leaves with deeply cut divisions and small, narrow ultimate segments. Dur ing this period the plant is storing food, chiefly sugar, in the so called root which consists of the upper part of the true root and the short portion of the stem between the root and the lowest leaves. A transverse section of the "root" shows a central core, generally yellow in colour, and an outer red or scarlet, yellow or orange rind. The core represents the wood of an ordinary stem and the outer ring the soft outer tissue (bast and cortex) . In the second season the terminal bud in the centre of the leaf rosette grows at the expense of the stored nourishment and length ens to form a furrowed, rather rough, branched stem, 2 or 3f t. high, and bearing the flowers in a compound umbel. The umbel is characterized by the fact that the small leaves (bracts) which surround it resemble the foliage leaves on a much reduced scale, and ultimately curve inwards, the whole inflorescence forming a nest-like structure. The flowers are small, the outer white, the central ones often pink or purplish. The fruit consists of two one-seeded portions, each portion bearing four rows of stiff spinous projections, which cause the fruits when dropped to cling to gether, and in a natural condition help to spread the seed by clinging to the fur of animals. As usual in the Umbelliferae, the wall of the fruit is penetrated lengthwise by canals containing oil.
Carrots vary considerably in the length, shape and colour of their roots, and in the proportion of rind to core. The White Belgian, which gives the largest crops, has a very thick root, which is white below, pale green above, where it projects above ground. For nutritive purposes it is inferior to the red and yellow varieties. The carrot is suited by a deep sandy soil, which should be well drained and deeply trenched. Soil is not trenched in the United States, but ploughed and harrowed as for other crops. A good, well-decomposed peat soil is considered ideal in the United States.
See J. Percival, Agriculture Botany (1926).