A biennial with branching stems. Flowers minute, 5-petaled, white or rarely pinkish white, in large compound umbels (umbrella-shaped clusters). The central floret is usually purple. After blooming, the umbel withers and contracts, forming a bowl into which the seeds fall. Blooms May–October. Leaves pinnately divided into straplike leaflets (twice-compound). A rosette of basal leaves is formed during the first year and overwinters. The flower stalk develops during the second growing season. Root a stout taproot. Seeds oblong and spiny.
Height: to 5 feet.
Occurs in fields, pastures, banks of streams and rivers, tops of bluffs, glades, fencerows, roadsides, railroads, waste places, and open, disturbed areas. Introduced from Eurasia, this species has two subspecies: wild carrot (ssp. carota), which we consider a wildflower, and cultivated carrot (ssp. sativus), familiar from the grocery store. The root of the wild form is edible when young but soon becomes woody and unpleasant.
Statewide, though apparently uncommon in the Bootheel lowlands. Native of Eurasia.
To many, this is a noxious weed that is difficult to control. Others use the fresh or dried flower stalks in floral arrangements. Cultivated carrot was developed long ago from this wild original. The plant creates many chemicals ranging from toxic to medicinal to skin-irritating.
A myth says the purplish flower at the center is a drop of blood shed when "Queen Anne" pricked herself while making the "lace." In reality, that small flower attracts insect pollinators. This nonnative plant competes against our native species. The seeds can stay viable for up to 5 years.
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!