This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
So far there have been no traces of the Wild Carrot found in early deposits. In the North Temperate Zone it is found in Europe, N. Africa, N. Asia, as far east as India. It has been introduced into N. America. Though common, it is not known in N. Perth, Banff, Main Argyll, E. Sutherland, the Orkneys.
The Wild Carrot is a common meadow species growing in fields and meadows, or upland pastures on dry soils. The railway banks have now become a permanent habitat for it in many places. On rising ground it is especially common, and on hillsides amongst such plants as Great Burnet, Devil's Bit Scabious, Ox-eye Daisy, Knapweed, Goats Beard, etc. It is also frequently to be seen by the wayside.
Fairly tall, erect, rigid, with a stiff, wiry stem, sparingly branched, clothed with bristles, and striated, Wild Carrot is distinguished by its foliage apart from its curiously nest-like umbels of flowers. The radical leaves are oblong with lanceolate leaflets with lobes on each side of the common stalk. The upper leaves are more triangular and larger, with sheathing leaf-stalks, thrice branched.
At first the umbel of flowers is cup-shaped or hollow, and this with its numerous rays and small deeply divided bracts or leaflike organs in the partial involucre or whorl of leaflike organs give it the appearance of a bird's nest.
There is a bright-red flower in the centre; the others white. The fruit is bristly, bearing numerous hooked spines. The stem is usually 1 ft. to 18 in. in height. Flowers are to be found in July and August. The plant is a biennial, propagated by seeds.
Compared with other umbellifers the flowers are large and conspicuous in proportion to the size and height of the stem. The umbels are white and purple in the centre, and bear a row of ray florets. The styles are erect, short, and thick. It is visited by numerous insects, and cross-pollination is in this way ensured.
Sixty-one insects have been noticed, 19 Diptera, 10 Coleoptera, 28 Hymenoptera, 2 Lepidoptera, 2 Hemiptera.
The fruits are provided with hooks which catch in the wool and fur of passing animals, and it is therefore dispersed by animals.
Wild Carrot is addicted to a sand soil and it is therefore a sand plant.
It is infested by the fungi Plasmopora nivea, Phomis sanguinolenta. and Protomyces pachydermis, and is galled by Asphondylia Pimpinellae. The beetles Melolontha vulgaris, Agriotes lineatus, a Thysanopterous insect Thrips vulgatissima, three Hymenoptera (Myr-mosa melanocephala, Tiphia femorata, Mellinus sabulosus), Hawk Moth and Lepidoptera (Swallow Tail (Papilio Machaon), Death's Head (Acherontia Atropos), (Botys palealis), Depressaria nervosa, Clisio-campa castrensis, Semasia rufillana), and a fly Psila rosae, feed on it, also a Homopterous insect, Trioza viridula.
Photo. Flatters & Garnett - Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota, L.)
Daucus is a Greek word denoting a kind of parsnip or carrot. Carota is a Latin word for carrot, derived from Greek. The Wild Carrot is called Bee's-nest, Wild Carrot, Crow's-nest, Dawke, Dill, Fiddle, Field More, Hill-trot, Mir-rot, Rantipole. Bird's Nest is given because the flower has a nest-like shape, of which resemblance Gerarde remarks, "The whole tuft (of flowers) is drawn together when the seede is ripe, resembling a bird's nest". He speaks of it as "serving for love matters ".
The Wild Carrot is the origin of the garden forms. It contains much sugar, and a spirit has been prepared from it.
Essential Specific Characters: 132. Daucus Carota, L. - Root long, stem erect, rigid, downy, leaves tripinnate, leaflets pinnatifid, flowers white, central red, in large umbels, with trifid bracts below.