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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

wild carrot

Scientific Name: Daucus carota

Other Names: carotte sauvage, Bird's-nest, Queen Anne's-Lace, carotte

Family: Carrot or Parsley Family (Umbelliferae)

General Description: Wild carrot is a biennial or occasionally annual and sometimes a short-lived perennial, reproducing only by seed.

Habitat: Wild carrot occurs throughout most of Ontario in old pastures, waste areas, roadsides, meadows and occasionally as a weed in gardens and flower borders.  The cultivated carrot was developed from wild carrot, which has a coarse, woody, fibrous, unpalatable taproot, by selecting strains having soft juicy edible roots.


  • Seedlings emerge during spring and early summer
  • Two long, narrow, thin cotyledons


  • First year plant is usually stem-less with a deeply penetrating taproot
  • Stem produced in the second year on biennial plants
  • Stem is erect, up to 1 m tall
  • Stem is branching, grooved, rough-hairy or bristly


  • First year, rosette of stalked, very finely dissected, hairy leaves
  • Leaves are almost identical in appearance and smell to leaves of cultivated carrot
  • Bases of leafstalks are broad and flat
  • Stem leaves are similar to basal leaves but smaller and on shorter stalks
  • Base of leafstalk is broadened and circles the stem at each node
  • First true leaf is compound with three main divisions
  • Later leaves are compound with many divisions

Flowers and Fruit

  • Flowers are white in compound umbels at tips of stem and branches
  • A whorl of several 3 to 5 branched bracts at the base of each compound umbel
  • Most flowers are white or sometimes pink, but a single flower in the centre of the compound umbel is dark purple
  • After flowering, umbel closes forming a “bird’s nest”
  • Seeds are gray-brown with several rows of spines by which they cling to clothing and animal fur
  • Flowers from June to September

Often Confused With / Distinguishing Features
It is distinguished by its finely divided leaves, its erect, hairy stem, its white to pinkish compound umbels surrounded at their bases by whorls of slender 3 to 5 branched bracts, its bird's-nest cluster of fruits and its typical carrot odour (stems, leaves and root), and a coarse, fibrous, unpalatable root.

Herbicide Resistance

Documented resistance in Ontario to WSSA Group 4 herbicides, synthetic auxins.


Mature seed head of wild carrot (bird’s nest) Cotyledons of wild carrot Wild carrot seedling Compound leaves of wild carrotWild carrot flowerClose up of wild carrot flower showing the white umbels surrounding the purple umbels in the centreClick to enlarge.