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Stalking the wild carrot.

Wild carrots are one of the many wild edibles that were used by our fore-fathers. As each generation becomes more prosperous, it becomes more removed from the basics of self sufficiency and family preparedness. I hope this information about the plant that brought you the current domestic carrot will whet your appetite to learn more about the free wild edibles that are available outside your back door.

Identification: Wild carrot is a biennial. Leaves are deeply dissected (finely cut). Wild carrot is easy to spot from the road because the white umbrella flower head stands out among the other plants. A four-to-six inch round, umbrella-shaped cluster of tiny (1/16 inch) flowers make up the second year flowerhead. The dried flowers create a circular cluster that resembles a bird nest. The flower head stands two to three feet tall at the end of a slender stalk that is round and somewhat rough with fine hairs.

Caution: Several identifying keys separate wild carrot from the toxic poison hemlock or fool's parsley. For example, wild carrot has one single blue/ purple flower in the center of the flower cluster, the root has a carrot smell, and it prefers a dry growing environment. Poison hemlock or fool's parsley is found in wet areas.

Locations found: Geographic range - throughout. Preferred environment - fields, waste ground, disturbed soils and along highways.

Identification briefs:

Species: Daucus carota

Other names: Queen Anne's lace, bird's nest

Plant size: two to three feet tall

Flower color: White

Blooms: Summer to fall

Sun required: Full sun

Propagation: Seed

Plant type: Biennial

Leaves:

Time gathered - Spring

Use - The tender young leaves can be used as cooked greens or fresh in salads. Good for adding to stews for seasoning. Some like to parboil a few minutes, pouring off the liquid and then cooking until tender. Leaves can be dried and later added to other foods as seasoning.

Roots:

Time gathered - Spring

Use - The roots from the first year growth (those not blooming) are tender and are used like domestic carrots. The older roots have a hard core that needs to be removed before using. The core can be left intact and removed after cooking, allowing the soft pulp and the juices to flavor the other foods cooked.

Medicinal tip: A mild tea made from the roots may be used as a diuretic and to eliminate intestinal worms. Science seems to confirm its diuretic and worm-expelling properties.

Flowers: Time gathered - Summer

Use - The fresh flower heads can be battered and fried like fritters. They can also be used to make a fine jelly.

Seeds: Time gathered - Late summer.

Use - The seeds can be easily gathered and used as a seasoning for soups and stews. They can also be used to top breads similar to caraway seeds. Rub the dried seed head between your hands in a light breeze allowing the seed to fall into a container and the chaff to be blown away.

Ken Larson is the author of God's Free Harvest - A Guide For Living Through Hard Times Ahead. Ken has been a contributor and subscriber for several years. He and his wife Sandy live on 14 acres near Atlanta. Ken is a disaster analyst with the federal government and a family preparedness expert. For additional information on his new book, send a SASE to God's Free Harvest, 977-5 Mill Creek Run, Suwanee, GA 30174.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Larson, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:562
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