Umbel of a wild carrot


The humble carrot
        first recorded in English
around 1530
        its name derived
from the Indo-European root ker
        signifying horn
Ancestors of the plant
        hail from Persia
modern-day’s Iran and Afghanistan
        A subspecies of the wild carrot
selectively bred
        to reduce bitterness
enhance sweetness
        and soften its woody core
Introduced into Spain – by the Moors –
        in the 8th century
into China in the 14th
        into Colonial America in the 17th
A biennial plant
        boasting a rosette of leaves
and clusters of flowers
        each cluster a compound umbel
each umbel containing
        several smaller umbels
A thing of beauty
        so much taken for granted
that nourishes
        both body and soul
and tastes divine
        in an Irish stew

John Lyons



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