Picture of carrots from Microsoft clip artCarrots are a biennial plant, which means that the life cycle of the plant takes two years to complete.  In the first year of the life cycle the embryo within a seed develops into a mature plant.  While maturing the plant grows foliage and stores sugars in an enlarged root.  It is after the first half of the life cycle that the carrots are usually harvested.  During the second half of the life cycle is when flowering and reproduction takes place.

If a carrot plant is allowed to winter, it will produce flowers upon growth the next spring.  The flowers will be gathered into bunches called an umbels that are described in the anatomy section.  Each flower within the umbel has the capacity to produce two seeds.  In order to produce a seed the plant must be pollinated.  The flowers of the carrot plant can be either self or cross pollinated.  Cross pollination can occur between individuals of the same species or even between different carrot species.

Pollen is produced by the male portion of the plant.  The pollen, which contains the sperm, is transferred to the stigma of the plant by vectors such as honeybees or flies.  When transferred to the stigma the pollen produces a tube so that it can reach the ovule.  If the pollen reaches the ovule the sperm are released and fertilization occurs.  After fertilization is complete, an embryo is formed.  The embryo will be encased within the seed and will be capable of producing a new carrot plant.

Carrot seeds are exceedingly small and are contained within a schizocarp fruit.  The fruit of the plant splits into separate seeded parts when sufficiently dry.  Each portion has spines that are scattered about the surface.  The spines are often removed on commercially produced seed.   


To learn how carrot plants interact with other organisms click here.