Cultivated Carrot - Carrots
Carrots - Credits: Anaterate

Carrot - Botanical Iinformations of the Cultivated Carrot

Let’s look each other in eyes and let’s serius talk about cultivated carrot.

At least.

Which are the (tap)roots of Cultivated Carrot? What is the carrot as plant? Why Bugs Banny is eating as maniac carrots? How looks like the leaves and carrot flowers? And finally, why did never Popeye eat carrots?

At least.

In these essential questions, but also in others that will be put in the immediate and predictable future, the following article will try. Will try to give sober, meaningful and thorough answers.

At least.

Popeye, what to say now, was simple a carrotophobic.

A. Botanical Description

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot leaves
Carrot plants in early stages of growth

Cultivated carrot - The plant

The cultivated carrot is a cool-season biennial vegetable, but practically cultivated as annual for its edible fleshy root. In the first year, the leaves grows and reaches the height of 50 cm and the second shows the flower stem, with its final height being 1,20 – 1,50 m.

However, sometimes the stem is formed from the first year. This occurs when its fleshy root has a diameter of more than 1/2 cm, has developed at least 8 leaves prematurely and has been exposed for about 2 months at low winter temperatures.

Carrot exposure at low temperatures is called vernalization. The phenomenon of vernalization is of decisive importance for the flower induction of the plant and consequently for the seed production.

Vernalization is directly related to the cultivation zone: in temperate regions it requires exposure at low temperatures from 0 to 10 oC for a period of about two months, while in the tropical and subtropical regions the temperature upper limit is 15 oC and the time period is shorter.

Modern varieties of cultivated carrot needs about 60 to 130 days to reach full maturity.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot roots
Conical shaped carrot roots

The root of the carrot

There are at least two zones in the taproot. The central one belongs to the inner core (xylem) and the outer to the pulpy cortex (phloem). The proportional relationship between xylem and phloem is of great importance: indeed, the taproots in which the phloem participates in a higher proportion, characterize the superior quality carrots. The shape of the cultivated carrot root may be nearly-spherical, cylindrical or conical. The size also varies, since its length may vary between 5 and 50 cm and the diameter is from 2 to 5 cm.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot leaves
Carrot leaves

The leaves

The carrot leaves grows one per node along the stem and they are long, composite, very finely divided, oblong and bimorphic. The lower ones are considerably larger than the upper, elongated, deeper  lobed and toothed or smooth, while the upper leaves are smaller and less segregated. The shape of the leaves of the first year is characteristic rosette, while the second year grow alternately on the flowering stem. Color in cultivated carrot leaves various from grey-green to deep green.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot, flowering stem
Flowering carrot stem

Carrots flowering stem

The elongated flower stalk appears from the center of the top taproot meristom – after the plant has been vernalized.

The stem branched into many short sections, at the edges of which are formed the inflorescences. The inflorescences in carrots are compound umbel and each umbel comprises of at least 50 umbellates.

Depending on their position on the flower stem, they are distinguished by primaries umbels and upper followers (second order umbels, third order umbels, e.t.c).

The number of secondary umbels varies from about 8 to 10 for each carrot plant.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot, inflorescence
Carrot blossoms

Flowers

The carrot flowers, white, yellowish or pinkish, are carried around 50 on each umbellate.

They are mostly pentameric and hermaphrodites, with 5 stamens and a two-sided ovary with 2 poles. However, single male flowers, as well as females, can also coexist as well as totally sterile flowers with atrophic reproductive organs – they are in the center of umbel with characteristic dark violet color.

It is worth noting that the male flowers, in numerous varieties, reach 50% of the total flowers of the 4th or 5th order inflorescences.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot flower
The bloom of the carrot
Cultivated Carrot - Carrot, pollination
Floral nectaries attract pollinating insects

Flowering & pollination

The main inflorescences bloom first and gradually follow the other lowest order ones. The interval from each other umbels is about 8 – 12 days and the period of flowering can last more than a month.

The central flowers pollen of an umbellate is often more large and fertile.

In most cases, the split stamens release their pollen before the stigma of the flower is receptive, that is to say, in each flower, precedes the maturation of the male part and then follows the female.

The pollen of the flower anthers is released in the first two days while the stigma is receptive from the third day.

In the early morning hours, the largest percentage of flower apertures is observed.

The inflorescences, when ripened, take a spherical shape as the endless umbel bend inward, acquiring a shape resembling bird nests.

The pollination of the flowers is carried out with the help of the insects and due to protandry phenomenon cross-pollination promoted.

Carrot, botanical description

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot seeds
Carrot seeds

The fruits and seeds of carrots

The fruits are oval schizocarpia consisting of two mericarps; each mericarp is a true seed. Before planting the mericarps removal because contains an oil which inhibits seed germination.

The produced seeds are brown when ripevery, small in size, on average between 1 and mm and number about 10,500 per gram. For carrot seeds crops, harvest starts when the earliest maturing seed on the primary umbel is mature and starting to drop.

Seeds, when stored in an environment with a temperature of less than 18 °C and a humidity of less than 9%, retain their germination at a rate of 70-80 % for 5 – 7 years.

B. Botanical Classification

Carrot, botanical

classification

Cultivated Carrot - Carrot botanical classification
Carrot plants

Family, genus, species of cultivated carrot

The cultivated carrot is a member of the Apiaceae family (Umbeliferae), members of which are also some widely cultivated plants such as parsley, parsnip, dill, caraway, fennel, celery, as well as the not so widely cultivated cumin and coriander but also includes some highly toxic plants, such as hemlock.

Because the inflorescence – the arrangement of flowers on a stem – compound umbel, former (but also allowed by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature) name of the family was Umbelliferae. The umbels comprises many small radially symmetrical flowers with five petals, sepals and stamens.

The genus Daucus carries a duplicate number of chromosomes (2n = 18) and includes about 20 species. The cultivated carrot is one of the subspecies of the carota species and botanically called Daucus carota (L.) subsp. sativus (Hoffm.).

Based on the morphology of leaves and root, the botanical varieties of carrot are divided into two large groups: Eastern carrot and Western carrot.

Carrot, botanical

classification

Cultivated Carrot - Carrots of Eastern/Asiatic group
Violet carrots of Eastern Group

Eastern (Asiatic) group

The Eastern group includes carrot plants whose roots are branched, their leaves have no deep lobes, and blooming occurs in the first year.

In this group, the root color varies and may be yellow or a combination of red, black, violet, and yellow.

Despite the presence of yellow carrot populations, often they are also called anthocyanin carrots because of the presence of this dye in violet and purple colored carrots.

The majority of Eastern species are found in Afghanistan, India, Russia and Iran. Although they are still cultivated to a certain extent in Asia, they are progressively replaced by the carrots of the Western group.

Carrot, botanical

classification

Cultivated Carrot - Western carrot
Orange carrots the West Group

West group

The West group includes carrot plants whose roots do not branched out, their leaves have deeper lobes and blooming takes place in the second year. In this group, the root color is yellow, orange, red, violet and white.

It is generally accepted that western carrots are likely to originate from the east as a result of the selection of wild Mediterranean subspecies, yellow and white, with the latter two owing to the natural mutations of violet and purple carrots.

In any case, what seems certain is that modern carrots originate from their common ancestor developed by Dutch growers in the 16th to the 17th century.

Since then the carrots have found their way orange.

Whether they met with the Dutch music ensemble ‘Golden Earring’ we do not know it. What we know is that the Dutch music ensemble will close the evening of reading the narrative “Carrot – Botanical informations of the cultivated carrots”, with a song.

‘Radar love’ and plenty of carrot juice.

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