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Carrot Flowers are Pretty, Edible, and Grow Seeds

Carrot flowers grow when a carrot has been left unharvested, to winter in the ground and then return in spring. An umbel-type flower (several small stalks growing from a stem, into flat topped or spherical flowers,) these lovely, lacy flowers, are also edible and produce carrot seeds for replenishing your garden.

When Carrots Grow Flowers

Carrots are a biennial plant, meaning that if they’re left to grow, rather than being harvested, they’ll grow flowers and seeds in their second year.

To get your carrots to flower and seed, simply don’t harvest them. Leave your carrot to winter over in the ground and come spring, those leafy greens will flower, then go to seed.

What Carrot Flowers Look Like

Carrot flowers are lacy and usually white, although purple carrot varieties have purple flowers. Being an umbel-type flower, your flowers will begin as a single stalk and grow into a bowl-shaped configuration of smaller stalks on top. These smaller stalks will then produce little white flowers at their ends.

Seeds and Flowers are Edible

Carrot flowers and their seeds can be eaten. The flowers can be eaten raw; they’re delicious in salads and add visual appeal, as well. Lightly battered and deep fried carrot flowers are considered by some to be a delicacy. Seeds are often used in soups and stews, or to flavor teas.

Be aware that carrot flowers, especially wild carrot flowers (also called Queen Anne’s lace) look a lot like wild hemlock, which is toxic. Carrot flowers have hairy stems and stalks; poison hemlock has a smooth stalk with purple spots on it. Of course, you know what you planted in your garden, but it never hurts to check.

How to Harvest Carrot Seeds

If you’ve left your carrot in the ground in order to get seeds for your garden, when and how to harvest those seeds is important information.

Several weeks after pollination occurs (by hand or by bees and butterflies) the umbels of your carrot plants will begin to dry out and turn brown. When the flowers are about 80% dried:

  • Cut the flower heads off of the stalks carefully
  • Place the heads, top down, in a brown paper bag
  • Allow flowers to dry completely; usually a few days to a week
  • Gently shake the dried flowers inside the bag to release the seeds
  • Discard or compost the flower heads and stalks

You will likely find a lot of chaff mixed in with your harvested seeds; this is not a problem. You can try to sift your seeds through screens, or even just gently blowing the chaff away, but it’s not necessary and the chaff will not interfere with planting or growing your carrots.

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