It's Carrot Week on iNaturalist! Mar 27 - Apr 2, 2016

Breathe in the pungent aromas of the Carrot family (Apiaceae) for the Critter Calendar this week! With over 3,700 species, this huge family of plants include many commonly used vegetables and seasonings, including carrots, coriander, celery, dill, cumin, anise and more. However, some species such as poison hemlock contain powerful toxins, so please don’t ingest any unless you know exactly which plant it is.

The Apiaceae are also known as the Umbelliferae, and that latter name is taken from their distinctive inflorescence (flower cluster), which is known as an umbel. Umbels are made up of many stalks originating from a stem which resemble the ribs of an umbrella. Some umbels have an almost flat top, as in sweet fennel, while others are arranged in a more spherical shape. Apiaceae flowers have five sepals, five petals, and five stamens, and are often small.

Other general characteristics of Apiaceae:

  • Mostly herbaceous, meaning they lack woody stems.
  • Stems are often hollow.
  • Leaves are usually alternately arranged, dissected (divided into many deep segments), and pinnatifid (the lobes are not discrete).
  • Crushing the leaves of most Apiaceae plants produces a strong odor.

In addition to its culinary uses by humans, many pollinators use the flowers of the Apiaceae as a source of nectar, and ambush predators like crab spiders can often be found on the umbels if you take a close look.

If you think you see any of these this week, share your observations with us. We’ll be keeping track here. Happy Apiaceae hunting!

Posted on 28 March, 2016 15:55 by loarie loarie


Off to look for poison hemlock! :)

Posted by sambiology about 8 years ago

just don't eat it!

Posted by loarie about 8 years ago

Fennel is another member of the Apiaceae and is included in my blog post "Frolicking In The Fennel" You can read about the medical and culinary uses here:

Posted by stevedaniels about 8 years ago

What about stick-tights? I don't know the scientific name but it looks a lot like the Poison Hemlock actually.

Posted by nich6395 about 8 years ago

Hey guys - love this page - great descriptions. I hope you continue these! They are great for teaching. (and as much as I like the drawing-feel, one or two standard photos would be awesome too! Great work.

Posted by lechnaumovich about 8 years ago

one notable, as I procrastinate work - often I see copious ants associated with Apiaceae, especially when in flower - I wonder if there's some connection aside from the obvious?

Posted by lechnaumovich about 8 years ago

I know what you mean about ants - out here in CA, ants on Cow Parsnip come to mind. I always just assumed they were after nectar - but maybe something else going on?

Posted by loarie about 8 years ago

Do you notice them nursing any aphids?

Posted by sambiology about 8 years ago

Tha Apiaceae are often attended by the Carrot Aphid, Cavariella aegopodii although here in Crete, Greece, fennel, in particular , is visited by Dysaphis apiifolia who are, in their turn, attended by ants. For a picture of various insects on the flower head of the carrot, Daucus carota see Welcome to the Carrot Club at the end of this blog post -

Posted by stevedaniels about 8 years ago

Thanks, @lechnaumovich!

Posted by tiwane about 8 years ago

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