Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Daucus carota



Daucus carota (carrot)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Daucus carota
  • Preferred Common Name
  • carrot
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Wild carrot, the progenitor of the cultivated carrot, is a biennial weed native to Europe, southwestern Asia and North Africa. Being a prolific seed producer, it can spread rapidly, and in its introduced range in Nort...

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Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbel. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
TitleFlowering umbel
CaptionDaucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbel. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbel. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
Flowering umbelDaucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbel. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbels. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
TitleFlowering umbels
CaptionDaucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbels. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbels. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.
Flowering umbelsDaucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace). flowering umbels. Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot). fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
TitleFruiting umbel
CaptionDaucus carota (wild carrot). fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Copyright©Hajotthu/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot). fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Fruiting umbelDaucus carota (wild carrot). fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.©Hajotthu/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot). dry, fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
TitleFruiting umbel
CaptionDaucus carota (wild carrot). dry, fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Copyright©Hajotthu/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Daucus carota (wild carrot). dry, fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Fruiting umbelDaucus carota (wild carrot). dry, fruiting umbel. Southern Heath Nature Park, Lower Saxony, Germany.©Hajotthu/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Daucus carota L.

Preferred Common Name

  • carrot

Other Scientific Names

  • Daucus gingidium L
  • Daucus sativus Hoffm.

International Common Names

  • English: bird's nest; bishop's lace; Queen Anne's lace; wild carrot
  • Spanish: zanahoria
  • French: carotte
  • Arabic: gazar
  • Portuguese: cenoura-brava

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Karotten; Mohren
  • Italy: carota selvatica
  • Japan: noraninjin
  • Netherlands: wilde peen
  • Sweden: vild morot

EPPO code

  • DAUCA (Daucus carota)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Wild carrot, the progenitor of the cultivated carrot, is a biennial weed native to Europe, southwestern Asia and North Africa. Being a prolific seed producer, it can spread rapidly, and in its introduced range in North America and Australia it invades open grasslands, meadows, roadsides, abandoned fields, waste areas and degraded prairies, competing with and displacing native plants. Wild carrot can also negatively affect commercial carrot cultivation through genetic introgression in seed crops.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Apiales
  •                         Family: Apiaceae
  •                             Genus: Daucus
  •                                 Species: Daucus carota

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Daucus carota is a complex, very variable species comprising wild and cultivated carrots, resulting in a confused taxonomy. The complex is subdivided into 13 subspecies, 12 for wild taxa and one for the cultivated taxon (subsp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arc.). However, for cultivated carrot it is better to classify directly at cultivar level below the species level.

There are two main groups of cultivated carrot: the eastern (anthocyanin) and western (carotene) carrot. The eastern carrot has branched roots, is yellow, reddish-purple to purple-black, rarely yellowish-orange; leaves slightly dissected, greyish-green, pubescent; flowering in the first year. The western carrot has unbranched roots and is yellow, orange or red, occasionally white; leaves strongly dissected, bright green, sparsely hairy; normally biennial, but often annual in tropical regions. At present the western carrot is by far the most important, although the eastern carrot is still cultivated in some Asian countries. Three main groups of western (carotene) carrot cultivars arose by selection in the 19th and early 20th centuries in western Europe and the USA from the Dutch landraces 'Long Orange' and 'Horn'.

Cultivated carrots cross readily with the wild carrot taxon D. carota subsp. carota, which is very common in Europe and South-West Asia and has been introduced and naturalized elsewhere, notably to North America and Australia. In America it is known as 'Queen Anne’s Lace'. The modern carrot probably evolved from a wild plant resembling Queen Anne’s Lace. There are several other wild carrot taxa and Daucus species occurring in the Mediterranean area and South-West Asia, most of which are crossable with the cultivated carrot.


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Annual or biennial erect herb, 20-50 cm tall at the mature vegetative stage and 120-150 cm tall when flowering. Taproot fleshy, straight, conical to cylindrical, 5-50 cm long and 2-5 cm in diameter at top, orange (most common), reddish-violet, yellow or white; the core (xylem) of mature roots is usually somewhat lighter in colour than the phloem, and the top of the root is often green. Leaves 8-12, growing in a rosette, glabrous, green, with long petiole often sheathed at its base; leaf-blade 2-3-pinnate, the segments divided into often linear ultimate lobes. Flowering stalks few to several, branched, each branch ending in a compound umbel (inflorescence); each umbel comprising 50 or more umbellets, each of which has up to ca. 50 flowers; involucral bracts more or less pinnatipartite; primary rays 2-25 cm, secondary rays 1-6 cm, pedicels 0.5-1.5 cm long; flowers mainly bisexual in primary umbels, in umbels of higher order an increasing number of male flowers may occur in addition to bisexual flowers; a few purple-red sterile flowers may be present in the central umbellets, especially in wild plants; flower small, 2 mm in diameter, epigynous, white, 5-merous but with 2 carpels and 2 styles. Fruit an oblong-ovoid schizocarp, 2-4 mm long, at maturity splitting into 2 mericarps, primary ridges ciliate, secondary ridges with hooked spines. Seed (inside the mericarp) with a long embryo embedded in endosperm. Seedling with long, thin taproot, cordate cotyledons and pinnate first true leaves.


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It is generally assumed that the purple (anthocyanin-containing) carrot originated in Afghanistan in the region where the Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountains are confluent, and that it was domesticated also in Afghanistan and adjacent regions of Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and Anatolia. Purple carrot, together with a yellow variant, spread to the Mediterranean area and Western Europe in the 11-14th centuries, and to China, India and Japan in the 14-17th centuries. The orange (carotene-containing) carrot probably arose in Europe or in the western Mediterranean region through gradual selection within yellow carrot populations. The Dutch landraces Long Orange and the finer Horn types were the basis for the orange carrot cultivars grown at present all over the world. In Asia they have now largely replaced the purple and yellow types because of superior yield and changing fashion.

The wild carrot, D. carota subsp. carota, is very common in Europe and South-West Asia and has been introduced to North America, Australasia and elsewhere.


Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2015
JapanPresentIntroducedNatureWatch, 2015Wild carrot naturalized as a weed

North America

CanadaWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot present as weed in most eastern and southern provinces
USAWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot present as a weed in all 48 contiguous states
-AlaskaReported present or known to be presentIntroduced Not invasive NatureWatch, 2015Wild carrot identified growing in Kenai Peninsula
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedNatureWatch, 2015Wild carrot reported present on Hawaii
-IowaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot listed as a secondary noxious weed
-MichiganWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot listed as a noxious weed
-OhioWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot listed as a prohibited noxious weed
-OregonWidespreadIntroduced Invasive US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998Wild carrot an invasive in prairies
-WashingtonWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Wild carrot listed as a Class B noxious weed


AustraliaLocalisedIntroduced1786-1798 Invasive Weeds in Australia, 2015Wild carrot naturalized in every state, particularly in south east and Tasmania
New ZealandPresentIntroducedNatureWatch, 2015Wild carrot present as a weed

History of Introduction and Spread

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Wild carrot, also known as bird’s nest, bishop’s lace and (in North America) Queen Anne’s lace, is native to temperate regions of Europe, southwestern Asia and North Africa, and is naturalized in North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia (NatureWatch NZ, 2015). It was probably introduced to North America from Europe as a weed seed contaminant in imported grain by the earliest colonists in the early 17th century. Cultivated carrots could also have escaped from gardens to become naturalized. Wild carrot now occurs at different levels of weediness in most eastern and southern Canadian provinces and all 48 contiguous states of the USA (USDA-NRCS, 2015), with reports also from Alaska and Hawaii (NatureWatch NZ, 2015). In Australia wild carrot is thought to have originated in the carrot seed that was imported from the UK to the colony of Sydney between 1786 and 1798 for food production; it is now present in every state and is commonly found naturalized in coastal regions around heavily populated areas, particularly in the south east of the country and Tasmania (Weeds in Australia, 2015).

Risk of Introduction

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Wild carrot already occurs in many temperate regions of the world. Although cultivated carrot is harvested before it produces seeds, escapes from cultivation do occur, allowing the establishment of wild populations.


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Wild carrot can be found growing in rough grassland, along coastal cliffs and in dunes, as well as in overgrown thickets, weedy meadows, along railroads and roadsides, abandoned fields, degraded prairies and waste lands. In some situations, wild carrot can spread aggressively, its deep taproot making it difficult to extirpate by mowing or hand-pulling (Hilty, 2015).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal areas Principal habitat Natural
Coastal dunes Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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In Australia, wild carrot invades open ground and competes with native grasses and herbs for resources. The plant poses a threat to recovering grasslands, as it matures faster and grows larger than many native plants (Weeds in Australia, 2015). In the USA, where it is listed as a noxious weed in the states of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Washington (USDA-NRCS, 2015), it is one of many alien species to invade the prairies in the west of the country, displacing native plant species, such as Sidalcea nelsoniana (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998). Throughout its range, where it occurs in the vicinity of cultivated carrots, especially those being grown for seed production, it can cross pollinate, resulting in a genetically contaminated seed crop (Grzebelus et al., 2011).

Biology and Ecology

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Cultivated Carrot

Growth and Development

Carrot seed will remain viable (70-80% germination) for 6-7 years when stored dry (moisture content 9%) at temperatures below 18°C. Germination is epigeal with first appearance of seedlings 9-12 days after sowing. The first four true leaves are formed at 4 to 5-day intervals, starting 3-4 weeks after sowing, but then the interval increases gradually to 15-18 days for subsequent leaves. A thin taproot grows down vertically to 20-25 cm, and 30-40 days after germination it starts swelling and gradually turning orange (in carotene carrots) from the hypocotyl stem downwards. About 80% of all carbohydrates produced in the plant are diverted to the root during this stage of development. The roots are mature 70-120 days after sowing according to the type of cultivar and growing conditions. The generative phase is induced by low temperatures. Carrot plants become sensitive to vernalization after the formation of at least eight leaves. The bolting-resistant cultivars of higher latitudes require 5- 12 weeks at 2-6°C to induce bolting. Local cultivars grown in the tropics show bolting when the night temperatures drop below approximately 16°C. The generative phase is accelerated by long days after devernalization (20°C). First a new rosette of leaves is formed, followed by elongation of the flowering stalk and first flowering 3 months later. Flowers are arranged in spirals and development is centripetal: the first mature flowers are on the outer edges of the outer umbellets. Flowering may last for one month, starting with the primary umbel. Initially the umbels are flat and concave. At anthesis the umbellets turn downwards progressively from the outside towards the centre, so that by the time the central flowers are mature, the umbels are more or less convex to conical. After pollination the umbellets turn upwards again. Carrot is predominantly outbreeding due to protandry. Insects such as bees and flies, attracted by abundant nectar, effect cross-pollination. The stigma becomes receptive 2-3 days after pollen dehiscence. Petals drop soon after fertilization and the seeds (mericarps) are mature 40-50 days later.


In their adaptation to the northern latitudes of Europe, carrots became biennial and tolerant of long days (non-bolting) during the vegetative phase. They require subsequent vernalization at low temperatures to induce flowering. Carrots adapted to tropical and subtropical latitudes respond to long days by bolting even before the roots have properly thickened. Carrots are mostly cultivated as a cool season crop. High soil temperatures, in excess of 25°C, induce slow growth rates, fibrous roots and low carotene content. For economic yields, carrots should be grown in tropical regions at altitudes above 700 m. Early-maturing carrot cultivars may grow in the lowlands, but yields will be low and roots will have a poor colour. Optimum air temperatures are 16-24°C. Soils should be well-drained, fertile and of a sandy texture. Heavy clay soils may induce malformed and twisted roots and harvesting will be difficult. Optimum pH is 6.0-6.5. A regular supply of water is essential to obtain smooth and even roots. Flowering and seed set are successful only in climates with mean day temperatures below 20°C.

Wild Carrot


D. carota is an outcrossing diploid species with 2n = 18 chromosomes. Wild carrot is considered a source of genes for traits such as cytoplasmic male sterility required in domesticated carrot breeding. However, gene flow from wild carrot can be a problem for carrot seed producers; pollination with pollen from wild carrot can result in genetically impure seed lots. As pollen can be transported long distances by insects and pollen remains viable for 10 days, a minimum distance of at least 1 km is required between cultivated fields and wild carrot habitats, with at least 5 km being required in some cases (Grzebelus et al., 2011).

Reproductive Biology

Each flower in a wild carrot umbel has five irregularly shaped petals. The flowers on the outer edge of the umbel often have larger petals, perhaps to make the umbel more conspicuous to pollinators. Each flower has five tiny thread-like stamens and most also have two pistils. Although the flowers in each umbel have both male and female parts, the inner flowers are functionally male only. In the centre of many wild carrot umbels there is often a purple, sterile flower, the function of which is unknown (Stokes and Stokes, 1985). Like the cultivated form, wild carrot exhibits a protandrous dichogamous reproductive strategy, with anthers maturing before stigma development. Pollination is by insects. After flowering and going to seed at the end of the growing season, the whole plant dies, but the flower stems often remain, dispersing seeds through the winter.

Physiology and Phenology

As in cultivated carrot, seed germination in wild carrots is epigeal. After emergence, the plant grows to a height of around 60-120 cm. In the first year it typically grows just a basal rosette with a deep taproot. Although wild carrot is often referred to as a biennial (growing as a rosette of basal leaves in the first growing season, then growing upward, flowering and dying the next), in fact its life history depends on environmental conditions (e.g., what time of year the seed germinated, nutrient and light availability, competition etc.). Under good conditions, germination may occur in the spring and the plant may flower in late summer of the same year. Under poor conditions, the rosette may grow for several years before the plant flowers. When flowering occurs, the top-most flowers in the umbel generally mature and develop seeds first. New flower stems are produced from the basal rosette throughout the growing season, which makes wild carrot unusually resilient to mowing. Once the flowers are pollinated, the umbel closes in on itself and dries out as the seeds mature (Stokes and Stokes, 1985).


Wild carrot, like the domesticated form, is a biennial, producing seed in its second year. Research on the persistence of the seedbank in Oregon prairie showed that 28% of seeds survived the first winter, with most going on to germinate in the following spring, but 40% of the surviving seed germinated in the second year. No seeds survived beyond the second year (Grzebelus et al., 2011).


In North America, the nectar and pollen of wild carrot flowers attract small bees, wasps, flies and beetles, including wild carrot wasps (Gasteruption spp.). The foliage, roots and other parts are food for other insects. Seeds are eaten by the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) and pine mouse (Microtus spp.). The aromatic and somewhat bitter foliage is browsed sparingly by mammalian herbivores (Hilty, 2015).

Environmental Requirements

Wild carrots require vernalization at low temperatures to induce flowering. Optimum air temperatures for growth are 16-24°C. Flowering and seed set are successful only in climates with mean day temperatures below 20°C. High soil temperatures (in excess of 25°C) induce slow growth rates. The preference is for full sunlight, mesic to dry conditions, and soil that contains either loam or clay-loam with a slightly acidic to alkaline pH. However, wild carrot will also adapt to partial sun, moist conditions, and other kinds of soil (Hilty, 2015). 

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alternaria dauci Pathogen Leaves to genus Soteros, 1979
Bonasa umbellus Herbivore Seeds not specific Hilty, 2015
Carrot mottle virus Pathogen Leaves not specific Sherf and MacNab, 1986
Cavariella aegopodii Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman and Eastop, 2006
Dysaphis apiifolia Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman and Eastop, 2006
Heterodera carotae Parasite Roots not specific
Hyadaphis foeniculi Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman and Eastop, 2006
Hyadaphis passerinii Herbivore Leaves/Roots not specific Blackman and Eastop, 2006
Ligyrus gibbosus Herbivore Roots not specific Hilty, 2015
Listronotus oregonensis Herbivore Roots not specific Hilty, 2015
Melanchra picta Herbivore Leaves not specific Hilty, 2015
Microtus Herbivore Seeds not specific Hilty, 2015
Papilio polyxenes Herbivore Leaves not specific Hilty, 2015
Phasianus colchicus Herbivore Seeds not specific Hilty, 2015
Psila rosae Herbivore Roots not specific Hilty, 2015

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The best known natural enemy of wild carrot in eastern North America is the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), the caterpillars of which feed on the leaves of a range of plants in the family Apiaceae. In temperate regions, pests attacking cultivated carrot crops often attack wild carrot. The most noxious pest of carrot in temperate areas is carrot root fly (Psila rosae), whose larvae burrow into the roots. Other insects feeding destructively on the plant’s parts include root-feeding larvae of Listronotus oregonensis and Ligyrus gibbosus, and foliage-eating larvae of the moth Melanchra picta (Wagner, 2005; Hilty, 2015). Wild carrot is a summer host for such aphids as Cavariella aegopodiiDysaphis apiifoliaHyadaphis foeniculi and H. passerinii (Blackman and Eastop, 2013). Another principal European pest is the root-damaging carrot cyst nematode (Heterodera carotae).

In North America, seeds are eaten by the ring-necked pheasant, ruffed grouse and pine mouse. The aromatic and somewhat bitter foliage is browsed sparingly by mammalian herbivores, such as deer and rabbits (Hilty, 2015).

The ability of wild carrots to act as reservoirs of disease for cultivated carrot crops is sparsely documented, even though fungi responsible for diseases in cultivated carrot are likely pathogenic on wild carrot. For example, wild carrots were identified as sources of Alternaria dauci infection in New Zealand carrot crops (Soteros, 1979), while Sherf and MacNab (1986) identified wild carrot as a reservoir of Carrot mottle virus.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Wild carrot seed can be dispersed by wind, but this is usually less than 3 m from the source plant (Umehara et al., 2005). However, the umbel curls up into a ball, hence one of its common names bird’s nest, which acts as a seed disperser when detached from the host plant (‘tumbleweed’ effect).

Vector Transmission

The commonest means of dispersal is by attachment to animal fur or human clothing. Manzano and Malo (2006) showed that wild carrot seeds adhering to wool could be transported 400 km by transhumant sheep flocks, with 7% remaining attached for up to 6 months. 

Accidental Introduction

Seed of wild carrot can be transported attached to people’s clothing or via mud attached to the undersides of vehicles (Schmidt, 1989). It can also be transported as a seed contaminant of seed and grain shipments.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds Yes
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

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Wild carrots appear to be an important source of Carrot mottle virus infection in cultivated carrot crops (Sherf and MacNab, 1986). They may harbour other pests and diseases that will attack commercial crops. Hybridization with the commercial plant can result in poor seed production.

Environmental Impact

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In its introduced range, wild carrot as an invasive weed can displace native plants. In Oregon in the USA, Nelson's checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana) was federally listed as threatened without critical habitat in 1993. A recovery plan was published in 1998 (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998) and updated in the 2010 Recovery Plan for the Prairie Species of Western Oregon and Southwest Washington (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010). It is a perennial herb in the family Malvaceae with tall, lavender to deep pink flowers, and occurs mainly in open areas with little or no shade (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015). It is threatened throughout its range by encroaching successional species, primarily resulting from suppression or elimination of natural disturbance regimes including periodic flooding and fires. Populations in Oregon’s Willamette Valley are extremely imperilled, as agricultural and urban development have modified and depleted habitats, fragmenting populations into mostly small, widely scattered patches. Extirpation is an ongoing threat to many Nelson’s checker-mallow occurrences on private lands, roadsides, undeveloped lots and otherwise vulnerable sites. In addition to land use threats, populations are particularly subject to competitive exclusion by exotic species (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998). Some 111 plant species are associated with Nelson’s checker-mallow, with about half of them being non-native. Most sites in the Willamette Valley have been densely colonized by invasive weeds, including wild carrot, but Nelson’s checker-mallow appears to be the listed prairie species most readily recoverable. Several recovery actions for habitat restoration have been implemented, including obtaining seeds and establishing plants, and evaluating the efficacy of habitat management techniques and ways to reduce the competition threat from non-native plants. Nelson’s checker-mallow plants have responded well to various management activities such as out-planting, transplanting, mowing and burning (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Sidalcea nelsonianaUSA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesOregonCompetitionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables worldwide. The swollen taproot of carrot is eaten and is an important market vegetable, even in tropical areas. The roots are consumed raw or cooked, alone or in combination with other vegetables (for example, peas), as an ingredient of soups, sauces, salads and in dietary compositions. Carrots are often canned, dehydrated, or quick frozen. Large quantities are also processed into infant food, juice or as an ingredient of soups, sauces and stews. A part of production is used as fodder. Young leaves are sometimes eaten raw or are also used as fodder (Elzebroek and Wind, 2008).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Similar in appearance to Conium maculatum, the deadly poison hemlock, D. carota is distinguished by a mix of tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its leaves and slender, solid, green stems, a root that smells like carrots, occasionally a single dark red flower in the centre of the umbel, shorter stature and summer rather than late spring flowering. Poison hemlock has purple-spotted, smooth, hollow and relatively stout stems and hairless leaves. Another wild carrot-like highly toxic plant is spotted waterhemlock (Cicuta maculata), and this has a cluster of enlarged roots that smell like parsnip, rather than a single taproot that smells of carrot. Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is not poisonous and can be distinguished from wild carrot by coarsely toothed rather than feathery leaves, and yellowish rather than white flowers (Penn State Extension, 2015).

The domesticated carrot (D. carota subsp. sativus) is easily differentiated from wild carrot (D. carota subsp. carota) by its highly pigmented, fleshy, edible, brittle, non-fibrous roots. In wild carrots, fresh roots are generally yellowish, flexible and fibrous, becoming tough and woody due to high xylem content. Also, the transition from shoot to storage organ is indistinct externally (abrupt in cultivated carrot), rosette foliage is often prostrate (usually conspicuously erect in domesticated forms), and umbels often have one or several purple central flowers (rarely in domesticated forms) (Encyclopedia of Life, 2015).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Fire is not very effective in removing wild carrot plants from natural areas, although they tend to decline spontaneously in such areas when there is an absence of disturbance (Hilty, 2015).

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Crop rotations can be used to reduce wild carrot infestations. In particular incorporating wheat into the rotation can reduce or even prevent wild carrot seed production as wheat harvest occurs when wild carrot is flowering.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Mowing wheat stubble to 10 cm in late August will cut off any wild carrot flowers, as will mowing in pastures and non-crop areas, where mowing as close to the ground as possible when 75% of plants have begun flowering is advocated.

Chemical Control

Control of wild carrot using herbicides requires application to over-wintered plants early in spring, to established plants in autumn, and/or to seedlings using pre- or post-emergence herbicides. Herbicides are most effective when applied at the seedling stage.

Ecosystem Restoration

In the Willamette Valley of Oregon, several recovery actions for prairie habitat restoration have been implemented, including obtaining seed of native species and establishing plants, habitat management and reducing the competition threat posed by non-native plants. Management activities have included out-planting, transplanting, mowing and burning (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012).


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Banga O, 1963. Main types of western carotene carrot and their origin. Zwolle, the Netherlands: Tjeenk Willink.

Banga O, de Bruyn JW, 1968. Effect of temperature on the balance between protein synthesis and carotenogenesis in the roots of carrots. Euphytica, 17:168-172.

Finch S, 1993. Integrated pest management of the cabbage root fly and the carrot fly. Crop Protection,12(6):423-430.

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17/08/15 Invasive Species Compendium sections added by:

Andrew Praciak, CABI, UK

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