Foraging Wild Shoots: Wild Carrot

One reason Sam Thayer receives so much praise from the foraging community is that he has taken the time to thoroughly and thoughtfully dispel numerous myths with his work. One such myth is that Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) cannot be reliably told apart from the closely related, poisonous plants and, therefore, should be avoided as a human food, lest one risk sudden death. This simply isn't true. Wild Carrot can be recognized with certainty and told apart from its seriously poisonous relatives, though beginners will need help in learning  how to do so.  In Nature's Garden, Sam profiles the unique features of Wild Carrot and provides a detailed chart contrasting it with Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum).

If you are new to plant identification, neither Sam nor I recommend munching on random members of the Carrot family (Apiaceae). However, once you've done your home/field work and can recognize Wild Carrot with 100% certainty, you might enjoy adding this plant to your wild food repertoire.

Photo of Wild Carrot stem

Wild Carrots are identical (aside from a typically smaller, white taproot) to cultivated Carrots – indeed they are the same species. And though the taproots get most of the attention, the vegetable I enjoy most is the succulent peeled shoot of a second year plant. Shoots are obtained without digging and can be quickly peeled by hand (see below), leaving clean green vegetables ready for raw or cooked consumption.

Photo of Wild Carrot stalk

6 thoughts on “Foraging Wild Shoots: Wild Carrot”

  1. You tell em! Wild carrots are such a pleasure. If only more people took matters into their own hands instead of just believing what they are told. Thanks for this post!

      1. I haven’t tried the shoots yet! But after reading your post I definitely will once they start showing their faces around here. Would you recommend a cooking method at all or simply raw?

  2. I have these growing all over the garden as pests. They look somewhat like small parsnips and even smell similar. i am pretty sure now that they must be wild carrots but are still a nuisance in my garden. I usually have to pull them before they are large enough to eat. Guess I will have to let some grow larger.

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