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Daucus carota L.

Cultivated carrot, Queen-Anne's lace (Wild)

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Toxicity
  5. Description
  6. Germplasm
  7. Distribution
  8. Ecology
  9. Cultivation
  10. Harvesting
  11. Yields and Economics
  12. Energy
  13. Biotic Factors
  14. References


Cultivated for the enlarged fleshy taproot, eaten as a raw vegetable or cooked in many dishes. Eaten sliced, diced, cut up, or shoe-stringed, carrots are used in many mixed vegetable combinations. They are sold in bunches, or canned, frozen, or dehydrated. They may be baked, sauteed, pickled, and glazed, or served in combination with meats, in stews, roasts, soups, meat loaf or curries. Roasted carrots have served as coffee substitutes. Carrot juice is beneficial. Britishers once brewed a good wine from carrot. Humans are said to eat the leaves in Java (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976). Essential oil is used to flavor liqueurs and perfumes. Carrotseed oil, blended with cedarwood oil, is a good imitation of orris. Roots and tops may be fed to livestock (Reed, 1976).

Folk Medicine

Seeds are aromatic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, and stimulant, and are used for dropsy, chronic dysentery, kidney ailments, and worms. Also as an aphrodisiac, a nervine tonic, and for uterine pain. Roots are refrigerant and are used in infusion for threadworm. Diuretic, and eliminating uric acid, carrots belong in the diet of gout-prone people. Local stimulant for indolent ulcers; other ingredients of carrot lower blood sugar; hence carrot might be increased to good advantage in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, dyspepsia, and gout, possibly heart disease. Elsewhere the root, prepared in various manners, is used for tumors, cancerous ulcers, cancerous wounds, tumors of the testicles, mammary carcinoma, and skin cancer. The juice of the root is applied to carcinomatous ulcers of the neck and uterus, cancer of the bowels and stomach cancer. Scraped roots are used to stimulate indolent ulcers. Cancer-fearers may be reinforced by the knowledge that carrots are relatively high in fiber, retinoid like substances, and the seeds also contain the rather ubiquitous ß-sitosterol, which has shown activity in Ca, LL, and WA tumor systems. Having heard from three different sources that wild carrot seed were used as a morning-after contraceptive in Pennsylvania, I was particularly interested to read that, "At doses of 80 and 120 mg/mouse, the seed extract, if given orally from day 4 to 6 post-coitum, effectively inhibits implantation." Experimentally hypoglycemic, a tea made from Queen Anne's Lace was believed to help maintain low blood sugar levels in humans, but it had no effect on diabetes artifically induced in animals. Wild carrot tea has been recommended for bladder and kidney ailment, dropsy, gout, gravel; seeds are recommended for calculus, obstructions of the viscera, dropsy, jaundice, scurvy. Carrots of one form or another were once served at every meal for liver derangements; now we learn that they may upset the liver.


Per 100 g, the carrot is reported to contain 86.0 g H2O, 0.9 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 10.7 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 1.1 g ash, 80 mg Ca, 30 mg P, 1.5 mg Fe, 2,000-4,300 IU Vit. A, 60 IU Vit. B1, 3 mg niacin, and 3 mg ascorbic acid. The Wealth of India (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976) reports thiamine (56-101 ug/100g), riboflavin (50-90 ug/100 g), and nicotinic acid (0.56-11 mg/100 g) among the B vitamins. Vitamin C is in a protein-ascorbic acid complex. Vitamin D, a substance with the characteristics of vitamin E and a phospholipoid of vitamin reactions corresponding to A and D and containing calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen in organic linkage, are also present. Carrots contain ca 5.27% ZMB of phytin. Sixteen percent of the phosphorus is present as phytic acid phosphorus. The lipids extracted from raw carrots are characterised by a low nitrogen content (0.33-0.72%) and by the absence or low content (0.52%) of choline, while those extracted from steamed roots are rich in nitrogen (1.1-1.3%) and choline (4.2-4.4%). Pectin isolated from carrots (yield, 16.82-18.75% on dry weight) has no gelling property. Ash of carrots gave (on fresh weight basis): total ash, 0.92; K2O, 0.51; Na2O, 0.06; CaO, 0.07; MgO, 0.02; and P2O5, 0.09%. Trace elements reported to be present include: Fe, Al, Mn, Cu, Zn, As, Cr, I, Br, Cl, U, and Li (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976).


Daucus has been reported to contain acetone, asarone, choline, ethanol, formic acid, HCN, isobutyric acid, limonene, malic acid, maltose, oxalic acid, palmitic acid, pyrrolidine, and quinic acid. Reviewing research on myristicin, which occurs in nutmeg, mace, black pepper, carrot seed, celery seed, and parsley, Buchanan (J. Food Safety 1: 275, 1979) noted that the psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties of mace, nutmeg, and purified myristicin have been studied. It has been hypothesized that myristicin and elemicin can be readily modified in the body to amphetamines. Handling carrot foliage, especially wet foliage, can cause irritation and vesication. Sensitized photosensitive persons may get an exact reproduction of the leaf on the skin by placing the leaf on the skin for awhile, followed by exposure to sunshine.


Annual (wild) or biennial (cultivated) erect her mmissural side, containing 2 small dry indehiscent seeds. Fl. May-Oct.; fr. July-Nov. (Reed, 1976).


Reported from the Mediterranean, Central Asian, and Eurosiberian Centers of Diversity, carrot, or cvs thereof, is reported tolerate bacteria, boron, frost, fungi, hydrogen floride, high pli, laterite, low pH, muck, poor soil, salt, smog, weeds, and wilt (Duke, 1978). Of great number developed, most important commercial cvs are 'Chantenay', 'Imperator', 'Dativers', 'Nantes', and similar cvs suited to a particular locality, soil, or other agronomic condition. CHANTENAY types: used chiefly in processing and home gardens, midseason maturity, large strong foliage, roots 12-15 cm long, 3-5 cm in diam., tapered or blunt end, deep-orange cortex and core; 'Royal Chatenay' and 'Red Cored Chatenay'. DANVERS types: used for fresh market and processing midseason maturity, large strong foliage, root 12.5-15 cm long, 3-4 cm in diam., tapered to rounded, and deep-orange cortex, slightly yellow core; 'Danvers 126'. IMPERATOR types: used extensively for fresh market, midseason to late, large strong foliage, root 16-18 cm long, 2.5-4.5 cm in diam., taper slightly to short tapered end, deep-orange cortex, lighter at core; 'Long Imperator 58'. NANTES types: used for home and market-garden, excellent quality, early maturity, short, sparse, brittle foliage, roots 11-15 cm long, nearly cylindrical, with blunt end, deep orange-red cortex and core; 'Nantes 99'. Most cvs have been derived from Daucus carota subsp. (or var.) sativus, and cross-fertilization occurs between wild forms and cvs. Male sterility found in many cvs and at least two wild populations, gives vigor and such other desirable characteristics, as smooth, uniform, highly colored roots. Some cvs developed for the tropics, include 'Early Horn' and 'Early Gem', used for forcing in lowland tropics (in cooler countries). 'Nantes' and 'Chantenay' are preferred for higher altitudes. 'Danvers Half Long' is recommended in Trinidad. Many countries have developed cvs suitable for growing in their particular areas (Reed, 1976). (2n = 18, 22)


Probably native to western Asia or the Near East, but forms are found in the Mediterranean region, southwest Asia, tropical Africa, Australia, and North and South America (Reed, 1976). Reported as a serious weed in Afghanistan, Greece, Hungary, and Poland, a principal weed in Jordan, Mauritius, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and Tunisia, and a common weed in Austria, Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, Iran, Iraq, USA, USSR, and West Polynesia (Holm et al, 1979).


Ranging from Boreal Moist to Rain through Tropical Thorn to Wet Forest Life Zones, carrot is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to 41.0 dm (mean of 180 cases = 11.7), annual temperature of 3.6 to 28.5°C (mean of 179 cases = 18.4), and pH of 4.2 to 8.7 (mean of 107 cases = 6.4) (Duke, 1978, 1979). A cool season crop, with optimum growth at 16-21°C, requiring for best growths long periods of mild weather free of temperature and moisture extremes. For seed production, warm dry areas with few summer or fall showers are desirable. One variety or other can be grown with success at some season of the year almost anywhere other vegetables are grown. Soils should be deep friable, well-drained, and loams and organic soils such as muck or peat have been used, with pH ranging from 6.5-7.8 (Reed, 1976).


Propagated from seed. Soil should be cultivated deeply but avoid excessive tillage. Seed may be planted from April to mid-July, or up to 3 weeks before last frost, using the standard spacing of 3 cm apart in rows 40 cm apart. Seed should be covered lightly with 0.3-0.6 cm of soil. Germination is slow and irregular. Seed rate is 3-6 kg/ha, less for processing cultivars. Carrots require relatively large amounts of well-distributed moisture as rainfall or irrigation. If irrigation is used, plant seed on raised beds, as 2-3 acre-feet of water is needed to grow a crop. Fertilization procedures should be designed to suit soil. Mineral soils should be supplied with liberal amounts of organic matter. Mixed fertilizers at 788-1125 kg/ha of 2-8-16 often applied. Carrots may be rotated with alfalfa or other legume cover crops, small grains, onions, spinach, or corn, but avoid rotation with celery, parsley, beets, sesbania, as they increase the soil disease problem. When grown for seed, different varieties must be widely separated, because, as a good nectar supplier, they attract many types of insects. In Great Britain, fields are separated by 270-360 m; in USA, for commercial seed, 400 m, and for stock seed, 900 m; in Egypt, 250 m; in Congo, 1100 m. All wild carrots must be removed from adjacent areas, as they cross readily with cultivated varieties. For seed production, plants are treated as biennials. Roots are lifted and stored during the winter for stock seed production, allowing complete roguing. Roots at this stage are called stecklings. Tops are often mowed off (used for livestock feed) before carrots are dug. Roots are then stored (0deg.C with 90-95% rel. hum.), medium-sized roots being considered best. Roots must not be allowed to shrivel, so that sometimes they are packed in pits in damp sand. In USA, ordinary cellars with dampened earth floors and air vents are used. Replanting steckling roots in the spring on well prepared deep friable soil may be done mechanically or by hand. They are set with the crown about level with the soil. In Europe, they are set in rows 75-0 cm apart with 60 cm between stecklings; in USA and Canada, roots are planted in 30 cm rows, spaced 5-10 cm apart; in Denmark, rows are spaced 80-120 cm apart. Moisture management at this stage is very important, as roots are very susceptible to rot. Effective weed control is essential for good seed production. Cultural practices for fertilization and irrigation are about the same as for root crop (Reed, 1976).


Root carrots are ready to harvest in 60 to 150 days depending on the variety. They may be harvested manually or mechanically, with machines replacing 60 laborers and harvesting 1.2-2 ha/day. For long storage, carrots should be kept at 0.5°C with relative humidity 90-95%. For seed, it is best harvested when secondary umbels are fully ripe and tertiary unbels are beginning to turn brown. Crop ripens unevenly, but seed does not shatter easily. Hand-picking provides best seed for stock seed production. Two or three pickings are necessary. In USA, crop is mowed or preferably pulled. Pulled plants are made into small piles (3-5 plants) to dry (cure) for 4-5 days under dry hot conditions, or for 2-3 weeks in humid conditions. When dry, crop is threshed with combine or stationary thresher, preferably with rubber-lined beaters. In Great Britain, clover huller, properly adjusted, can also be used to remove the beards. After removal of coarse material, seed can be cleaned over a winnower. Seed stores well in temperate regions about 3 years, maintaining good viability (Reed, 1976).

Yields and Economics

In 1979, the world low production yield was 3,125 kg/ha in Zaire, the international production yield was 22,046 kg/ha, and the world high production yield was 62,889 kg/ha in Belgium-Luxemburg. Yields of root carrots averages about 24,000 kg/ha. Seed yields for over-wintered crops average 600-800 kg/ha; for transplanted crops yields are lower, 500-600 kg/ha. In USA, yields up to 1000-1200 kg/ha seed have been recorded; in India, only 200 kg/ha; and in Egypt, 220 kg/ha (Reed, 1976). Carrots are ninth (out of twenty eight) among vegetable crops in the US. Average value of commercial crop is about $70,500,000 per year based on fresh-market and processed carrots, accounting for about 86,300 tons of carrots.


The Wealth of India (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976) suggests root yields of up to 120 MT/ha, which, if 90% water, would translate into DM yields of 12 MT/ha. The sugars could be rather readily converted to alcohol.

Biotic Factors

About 95% of carrots are cross-pollinated. Pollinators are honeybees and other hymenoptera, and some diptera. Bee colonies should be supplied, if natural pollinators are not adequate. The following fungus diseases have been reported: Aecidium carotinum, Alternaria brassicae, A. carotae, A. dauci, A. porri, A. tenuis, A. tenuissima, A. radicina, Botrytis cinerea, Centrospora acerina, Cercospora apii, C. carotae, Chaetomium aureum, C. globosum, Choanephora cucurbitarum, Colletotrichum fructigenum, Corticium rolfsii, C. solani, Diaporthe arctii, D. picea, Drysiphe heraclei, Erysiphe heraclei, E. polygoni, E. taurica, E. umbelliferarum, Fusarium acuminatum, F. avenaceum, F. culmorum, F. equiseti, F. oxysporum, F. poae, F. roseum, F. solani, Helicobasidium mompa, H. purpureum, Helminthosporium apii, Heteropatella lacera, Leveillula taurica, L. umbelliferarum, Macrophomina phaseoli, Macrosporium carotae, Mycosphaerella sagechioides, Myrothecium roridum, Oidiopsis taurica, Pellicularia filamentosa, Phoma rostripii, P. sanguinolenta, Phomopsis dauci, Phymatotrichum omnivorum, Phytophthora cactorum, P. megasperma, Plasmopara dauci, Pleospora vulgaris, Pseudoplea trifolii, Puccinia chaerophylli, Pythium bluteri, P. debaryanum, P. spinosum, Ramularia pastinacae, Rhizoctonia carotae, R. crocorum, R. microsclerotia, R. solani, R. violacea, Rhizopus nigricans, R. tritici, Sclerotinia fuckeliana, S. libertiana, S. sclerotiorum, Sclerotium rolfsii, Septoria apii, S. carotae, Sordaria fimicola, Stemphylium radicinum, S. botryosum, Trichothecium roseum, Typhula variabilis, and Uromyces scirpi. Following bacteria may cause disease: Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Bacillus carotovorus, B. polymyxa, B. subtilis, Bacterium aroidea, B. carotovorum, Erwinia aroideae, E. atroseptica, E. carotovora, E. phytophthora, Pectobacterium carotovorum, Pseudomonas carotae, P. marginalius, and Xanthomonas carotae. Following viruses have been isolated: Argentine sunflower, Aster yellows, Cucumber mosaic, Motley dwarf, Stolbur, Tobacco mosaic, and Curly top virus. Chlorisis may be caused by magnesium deficiency and causes of black-heart and root girdle are not known. Cuscuta gronovii, C. arvensis, and Orobanche muteli are known to parasitize carrots. Like most root crops, carrots are susceptible to nematodes, including the following: Belonolaimus gracilis, Ditylenchus destructor, D. dipsaci, Helicotylenchus dihystera, H. pseudorobustus, Hemicycliophora similes, H. typica, Heterodera carotae, Hoplolaimus galeatus, Longidorus maximus, Meloidogyne arenaria, M. hapla, M. incognita acrita, M. javanica, Merlinius, brevidens, Nacobbus aberrans, Pratylenchus crenatus, P. penetrans, P. pratensis, P. neglectus., P. vulnus, Paratylenchus hamatus, Rotylenchulus reniformis, R. robustus, R. uniformis, Radopholus similes, Trichodorus teres, and Tylenchorhynchus claytoni. Many diseases have insect vectors, such as maggot flies (Delia platura and H. radicum) for bacterial soft rot (Erwinia carotovora and E. atrosseptica); six-spotted leaf-hoppers (Macrosteles fascifrons) for Aster yellows virus. Other insect and mite pests of carrots are: Wireworms, which are the yellowish cylindrical larvae of click beetles; Carrot rust fly (Psila rosae); Carrot weevils (Listronotus oregonensis, Listroderes costirostris obliquus); Carrot beetles (Bothynus gibbosus); Western parsley caterpillar (Papilio zelicaon); Black cutworm (Agrotisipsilon); Six-spotted leafhopper (Macrosteles fascifrons); Cabbage loopers (Trichoplusia ni); Celery looper (Syngrapha falcifera); May beetle (Phyllophaga cribrosa); Celery rust mite (Aculus eurynotus); Carrot bud mite (Eriophyes peucedani); Clover mite (Bryobia praetiosa); Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae); Spinach crown mite (Tyrophagus dimidiatus); and several aphids, the most common being Cavariella aegopodii, and over 11 species are involved with spreading western celery mosaic virus to carrots. Blister beetles, grasshoppers, seed-crown maggots, and cabbage maggots can be real pests (Reed, 1976).


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 10, 1996