Ontario Wildflowers website

Wild Carrot
Daucus carota

Other common names: Bird's Nest, Queen Anne's Lace

Family: Parsley Family (Apiaceae)

Distinctive features: Root resembles and smells like carrots. Flat-topped umbel of white flowers. Dry fields.

Similar species:
  •   Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) - grows in wet areas - DEADLY POISONOUS.

  •   Bulb-bearing Water Hemlock (Cicuta bulbifera) - grows in wet areas - DEADLY POISONOUS.

  •   Chinese Hemlock Parsley (Conioselinum chinense)
  •   Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) - DEADLY POISONOUS.
  •   Caraway (Carum carvi)
  •   Water Parsnip (Sium suave) - Flower umbel similar; grows in wet areas; leaves very different.
  •   Japanese Hedge Parsley (Torilis japonica) - Flower umbel is very open and consists of several small clusters of flowers.

Flowers: Summer, Autumn;  White;  5 parts (petals);  Flat-topped white umbel, often with a solitary purple flower in the center. Summer & fall.

Leaves: feathery.

Height: Up to 1 m (1-4 ft)

Stem: hairy.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Dry fields.

Uses: Root is edible - tastes like carrots. The first year roots are the best.

Edible: Root is edible - tastes like carrots.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 220    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 48    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 127   

Native/Non-native: Non-native

Status: Common.

Notes: I have provided a lot of photos of this plant, in order to help you distinguish it from its poisonous look-alikes. Although this plant is edible, be very careful not to confuse Wild Carrot with other similar species, some of which are DEADLY POISONOUS. Be sure that the plant you think is Wild Carrot actually smells like carrots. And that it is growing in a dry field.

Photographs: 155 photographs available, of which 14 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A field of . They bloom from summer into the fall.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A closer view.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

The flower umbel is sometimes rounded on top.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A top view of the white flower umbel.

Note the tiny purple flower in the center (see below).

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A closeup view of the flowers.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

And here's a closer view of the solitary purple flower that is often in the center.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

These bracts that hang down underneath the flower umbel are characteristic of this species. Most of the look-alikes do not have these, or at least not as many.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Flower cluster just starting to open.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

When the flowers are done, they curl up into a bird's nest shape. This gives rise to one of this plant's common names: Bird's Nest.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

This is what's left of the plant in the winter and following spring.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A leaf. Note the feathery shape. Several of the look-alikes have leaves just like this.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Another leaf.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

A young plant in the spring.

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Closeup of the stem. Note the hairs.

Range map for Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)