Botanical name: Daucus carota Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)
Synonyms: Daucus vulgaris, Daucus sylvestris
Wild Carrot is a variable biennial plant, usually growing up to 1 m tall. The umbels are claret-colored or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3-7 cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath. Finally, as they turn to seed, they contract and become concave like a bird's nest. The dried umbels detach from the plant, becoming tumbleweeds. Similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock, Wild Carrot is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center. Like the cultivated carrot, the wild carrot root is edible while young, but quickly becomes too woody to consume. Wild carrot is native to West Asia and parts of Europe, naturalized in Kashmir. Flowering: June-August.
Medicinal uses: A teaspoon of crushed seeds has long been used as a form of birth control; its use for this purpose was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use - wild carrot was found to disrupt the ovum implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. Chinese studies have also indicated the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.
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