What is the Progenitor of the Carrot?

progenitor
Daucus carota
The Progenitor of the Carrot is… What else? Daucus carota—the wild carrot—otherwise known as Queen Anne’s Lace. If a plant is pulled from the ground and the soil is brushed off, this fact becomes apparent. The appearance of the root, its aroma, and the leafage each points to the likelihood of this being the correct explanation. In fact, it is generally conceded Queen Anne’s Lace is the true progenitor. Here is a photograph of the root of a wild carrot.

Expanding Our Outlook

In fact, many garden vegetables are derived from other plants with less-than-pronounced “fruits.” Thus, Brussels sprouts were derived from a specific group of cabbages—the Gemmifera or Brassica oleracea group.

Likewise many of our garden green vegetables have been derived from other plants. This should come as no surprise, in view of many other plants, including flowers that have been cultivated.

Not the Only Progenitor

Expanding our outlook yet further, we might ask: what other vegetables, indeed, what other foodstuffs, might mankind produce by careful cultivation and hybridization of currently known wild plants and currently grown cultivars? Time will tell. Perhaps a repeat development of a carrot from the progenitor of the carrot might give us some ideas.

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2 Comments

  • Cracked Alloys Reply

    All our foodstuff has come originally from the wild, even if it is by crossing different “species”. The term “species” means it doesn’t breed outside other members of the same species but nectarines were produced by crossing apples and plums, I think.

    • Vincent Summers Reply

      Britannica suggests a nectarine is probably a form of peach bred in China that took advantage of a recessive allele that did away with the hairiness of an ordinary peach.

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