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Medicinal Plant Wild Carrot

Throughout history, various cultures have attributed medicinal properties to different parts - leaves, root and fruits - of the wild carrot plant.

The wild carrot (Daucus carota ssp. carota L.), is a versatile biennial herbaceous plant, typically standing at heights between 30 to 120 cm (1 to 4 ft). It boasts a rough, somewhat hairy texture, featuring a sturdy, solid stem. Its foliage, characterized by tripinnate leaves, exhibits intricate, lacy divisions, forming a triangular outline. These bristly leaves, measuring 5–15 cm (2–6 in) long, alternate in a pinnate arrangement, separating into delicate segments.

Its small, unassuming flowers, often a subdued white hue, gather in tightly-packed, flat clusters called umbels, which are about 8–15 cm (3–6 in) wide. Some variations might display a pinkish tinge in bud or even showcase a reddish or purple-hued “ruby” at the center of the umbel. Notably, the plant’s lower bracts, three-forked or pinnate, serve as a distinguishing feature among white-flowered umbellifers.

As the seeds within the plant mature, the umbel changes, curling at the edges, compacting, and acquiring a concave surface. Its small, dry, and unevenly surfaced fruits, oval and flattened in shape, exhibit short styles and hooked spines. Surrounding these fruits are protective hairs, contributing to its overall defense mechanism. With two mericarps (or bicarpellate), the fruit’s endosperm growth precedes that of the embryo.

Following maturation, the dried umbels separate from the plant, transforming into tumbleweeds. Interestingly, the purpose of the minute red-hued flower, enriched by anthocyanin, is to attract insects, contributing to the plant’s reproductive cycle.

Wild carrots have thin, white roots with a bitter taste.

Habitat & cultivation

Native to temperate regions of Europe1 and southwest Asia, the plant was spread to North America and Australia.

The plant is commonly found along roadsides and in unused fields. It thrives best in sun to partial shade

Use for medicinal purposes

Traditional Medicinal Uses

Throughout history, various cultures have attributed medicinal properties to different parts of the wild carrot plant.

The root of Daucus carota has been used traditionally to aid digestion, offering relief from gas and bloating due to its purported carminative properties. Infusions or teas made from the plant’s roots have been employed as diuretics, promoting urination and potentially supporting detoxification processes in the body. Some traditional remedies involve the utilization of wild carrot for respiratory issues, owing to its believed expectorant properties that assist in clearing mucus from the respiratory tract. Historically, wild carrot seeds have been associated with supporting menstrual health and used as a mild uterine stimulant. However, caution is advised, particularly during pregnancy.  Various parts of the plant, particularly the seeds, contain antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids, offering potential protective benefits against oxidative stress.

Extracts from Daucus carota have been used topically for minor wounds or skin infections due to their believed antibacterial properties.

Caution: This plant can cause contact dermatitis in some people. 

Constituents

  • phenolic acids, such as p-hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, and chlorogenic,
  • anthocyanins
  • isocoumarins
  • vitamin A, B i E
  • essential oil

Action and application

Used parts are leaves, root and fruits. The root is collected in the first year while it’s young; otherwise, it becomes woody. It’s eaten raw or cooked. The leaves have a pleasant scent similar to cultivated carrots and can be used as a seasoning in salads. The fruits are used to make liqueurs and marinades. Etherical oil has been studied for medicinal benefits. This study allowed a better understanding of the bioactivities of D. carota subsp. carota essential oil. The results showed that this oil had a significant activity towards the inhibition of Gram-positive bacteria, Cryptococcus neoformans, and dermatophytes. Importantly, the oil was also efficient in inhibiting the germ tube formation and the preformed biofilms of Candida albicans. Despite the oil exhibiting no considerable antiradical activity, it reduced about 20% NO release in LPS-stimulated macrophages, at concentrations devoid of toxicity to these cells. It is reasonable to conclude that concentrations lower than 0.64 μL/mL present a safety profile for different human cell types unveiling the potential application of the essential oil for therapeutical purposes, with a special focus on fungal infections associated with a proinflammatory status. Further experiments disclosing the mechanism of action and in vivo tests are of utmost importance to further support the benefit and safety of D. carota subsp. carota essential oil3.

TAXONOMY

KINGDOM: Plantae

ORDER: Apiales

FAMILY: Apiaceae

GENUS: Daucus

SPECIES: Daucus carota L.

COMMON NAME

European wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, and Queen Anne’s lace

FLOWERING TIME

V – IX month

References:

  1. Spellenberg, Richard (2001) [1979]. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region (rev ed.). Knopf. p. 338. ISBN 978-0-375-40233-3.
  2. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/daucus-carota/
  3. Alves-Silva JM, Zuzarte M, Gonçalves MJ, et al. New Claims for Wild Carrot (Daucus carota subsp. carota) Essential Oil. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:9045196. doi:10.1155/2016/9045196
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