The name carrot is derived from the scientific name carota. This Latin word means "burnt" and refers to the purple-red colour of the earlier cultivated forms.
The carrot is a plant with a rich history. It was already cultivated by the Germanic tribes who called it morha - root. This is the origin of the German word for carrot: Möhre. Carrot seeds were also found in Swiss pile dwellings. The Ancient Romans and Greeks only mentioned the carrot as medicinal plant. They already knew of its diuretic action. However, they presumably found the root too woody to eat as the plant had undergone little cultivation by that time. Then Charlemagne recommended the cultivation of carrots. From the Middle Ages onwards they were cultivated on a large scale.
Through the labours of the cultivators we now have 500 different varieties of carrots. It started with just two: a yellow and a violet one. It was only in the 17th century that the Dutch succeeded in cultivating the carrot with the orange colour we know today, which comes from the high ß-carotene content. Incidentally, the violet colour is produced by so-called anthocyans: pigments which give flowers their colour, for example the purple central flowers of the wild carrot. In England, where the carrot is also called Queen Anne's Lace on account of the filigree structure of its flowers, the following story is told about how these dark flowers came about. It is said that Queen Anne pricked her finger while lace-making and that a drop of blood fell into the middle of the piece she was making. There is no scientific explanation for this phenomenon of the central purple flowers.
Roasted and ground carrots can be used as coffee surrogate. Chopped and steamed carrot greens make a tasty vegetable.