Wild carrot

Encyclopedia Article

Wild carrot                   Daucas carota L.

Family: Apiaceae (Parsley family)     
Life cycle: Biennial
Native status: Introduced
Habitat: Pastures, roadsides                                  

General description: Forms basal rosette of pinnately divided leaves during first year, in the second year an erect flower stalk up to 3 ft tall in second year. Inflorescence is a flat umbel with numerous white, lace-like flowers. Mature umbels roll up into a ‘bird’s nest’.  

Key ID traits: Leaves are pinnately dissected with fine, lacy lobes; petioles are longer than the blade.  Stems are hollow, hairy and ribbed. Pubescent stems and petioles. Often a single purple flower is found in center of umbel.

Similar species: Poison hemlock is found in similar habitats, but the lobes of leaves are not as finely divided as wild carrot. Leaves of poison hemlock have a triangular shape, whereas the margins of wild carrot are nearly parallel. Poison hemlock has purple spots on the stem and reaches heights of 5-6 ft. Wild carrot is the latest of the three primary Apiacea weeds in Iowa to flower: poison hemlock is first, followed by wild parsnip, and wild carrot brings up the end of the pack.

Miscellaneous: Wild carrot is the same species as the cultivated variety. Frequently called Queen-Anne’s lace; the purple flower in the center of most umbels is said to be the blood of Queen Anne after she pricked her finger while making lace.

Wild carrot seedling.


Basal rosette of finely divided leaves.


The pubescence on petioles and stems of wild carrot is an important ID trait. Leaves are linear compared to triangular shape of poison hemlock.


White umbel with Queen Anne's blood at center, or is it just a purple flower?