Where are the seeds on a carrots?
Plants have different parts: there are flowers, stems and roots. The parts that
come from the flower have the seeds. In the middle of the flower there is a part
called the pistil which contains the seeds. When pollen from another plant is
carried to the pistil by a bee or butterfly or the wind, it causes the pistil to
grow into a fruit which holds the seeds. So, anything that has a seed is actually
a fruit. This means that tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers, etc., are actually
fruits! We can also eat other parts of a plant. Celery is actually the stem of
the celery plant. The part of a carrot plant that we eat is actually the root.
The carrot plant does have flowers which will eventually have seeds, but we don't
eat that part of the carrot plant. Anything that we eat that comes from a root, a
stem or a leaf of a plant, that doesn't produce seeds is called the vegetative
parts-we call them vegetables. So carrots, potatoes, lettuce, celery, spinach are
Because carrots are usually harvested before they "bloom" carrots do have seed --
producing pods that can be harvested.
A carrot is not a fruit, so there are no seeds ON the carrot.
The part of the carrot that you eat grows in the ground, usually with the wide end
of the carrot just at the surface of the soil. The round mark you can see on that
end of the carrot is where the leaves used to be - a big soft bunch of deep green
leave that look a bit like a fern. When the carrot is ready, it sends up a tall
stem, which produces flowers, and eventually seeds. The seeds are very small and
black, and look like full stops (periods) on a page.
Now for the bad news - If you are planning to grow carrots, letting one go to seed
may not be the best solution. Carrots are biennial - that means they take two years
to reach maturity when they can produce seeds. Secondly, the vasy majority of
carrots that you buy from the supermarket are F1 hybrids. That means the seed comes
from TWO parents who are different. (One may be big and fat, while the other is
fast growing and a nice colour. By using pollen from one to fertilise the flowers
of the other - the grower aims to produce carrots which are big and fat and fast
and a good colour) The resultant carrot may be just what the farmer wants, but
there are usually two problems for the consumer - The carrot may not have taste
(low on the farmers list of priorities, because you cant cook and taste before you
buy!!) and in the vast majority of cases, F1 hybrids are sterile. If you grow an
F1 carrot and harvest the seed ( after two years!!) they may very well not grow.
In some cases you just get no flowers or seeds at all.
So - How DO you grow carrots?
At the supermarket. look for a carrot with some green top left on it. Cut off the
top two inches or so, and let mum have the rest to go in the stew, or with the
roast. The stump of carrot should have some leafy parts on it - but it does not need
You can either plant the stump in a pot of good potting soil, and keep it moist for
a few weeks. New leaves will appear, and under the soil new roots will appear as
well. Eventually, if all goes well, in about 12 - 20 weeks, you should be able to
harvest some new carrots that have grown from the roots.
Even more fun - push three toothpicks into the carrot stump to make the spokes of a
triangle, and suspend the carrot on the rim of a jar or tumbler, with the orange
part mostly submersed in water. You will need to keep topping up the water as it
evaporates and is absorbed by the carrot, but in a couple of weeks you will see fine
new hair like roots begin to grow from the skin of the carrot. (That's why you need
to leave a couple of inches)
You can also go to the garden shop and buy seeds - but they will definitely be F1.
They will grow to make new carrots - just no seeds.
Tennant Creek High School
Carrot plants flower and produce seeds.
Anthony Brach Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012