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carrots are vegetable roots

Is Carrot a Fruit or Vegetable? (A Guide on This Versatile Vegetable)

The answer to the question is carrot a fruit or vegetable is that it’s a vegetable, without any doubt. Just because we love carrot cake, that doesn’t make it a fruit. It’s still primarily used in making savory dishes, whether it’s cooked or raw.

This is not a debate, like it would be if we were talking about tomatoes or cucumbers or peppers or other plants that are viewed as vegetables but are actually fruits. They are fruits because the seeds grow inside the body.

You won’t find any seeds inside the body of any carrot. Those seeds are produced by flowers that grow up high above the ground.

Carrot is a Root Vegetable

If we want to be more precise, we would say that carrots are root vegetables. Just like beets, radishes, turnips, and sweet potatoes. Parsley is also a root vegetable if you grow the Fakir variety.

They’re called root vegetables because, from the entire plant, we consume the roots.

In fact, if we were to answer the question what is a vegetable, we would say that it’s the fresh edible portions of certain herbaceous plants. These are also plants that are cooked into savory dishes or are eaten raw.

Depending on the plant, we can consume the roots, flowers, stems, leaf and leafstalk, bulbs, and seeds.

Let’s see some more examples of vegetables, besides root vegetables, based on which part of the plant we consume:

  • bulb vegetables: onions, garlic, leeks
  • potatoes are tubers
  • asparagus is a stem vegetables
  • for leaf and leafstalk we have cabbage, lettuce, spinach, celery, Brussel sprouts
  • broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes are our head/flower vegetables
  • the seed ones are peas and beans

Why Carrot Is Not a Fruit

carrots do not have seeds

The answer to is carrot a fruit or vegetable is definitely not a fruit but the latter.

The simple definition of a fruit is that it’s a body that encloses the seeds by which plants reproduce.

Lemons are fruits because their body encloses those seeds and we can grow lemon trees from those seeds. That’s what we mean by the fact that the plants are reproduced from the seeds hidden inside the body.

There are also exceptions, of course. Let’s take for example an absolutely adored fruit around the globe. Strawberries actually have their seeds embedded on the exterior and not inside the body.

However, strawberries are also propagated from runners, which grow as extensions from the plant. No seeds are needed for reproduction.

Another popular exception for a fruit that is not propagated from seeds is pineapple. The pineapple plant is propagated from the crown of the fruit or from offsets (pineapple pups). Aloe vera is another plant that is propagated from offsets.

Carrots are Grown from Seeds

Carrots are a vegetable but are also grown from seeds. However, those seeds are not inside the body and that’s why the answer to the question is carrot a fruit or vegetable is the latter.

Where do the seeds come from?

Carrots are biennials. It means that they need 2 years to complete their life cycle. In the first year, the plant grows the roots that we eat. If the roots are left in the ground, they produce flowers and set seed.

When the plant enters its reproductive cycle, it flowers. It’s the same with herbs and onions, etc. If you allow the plant to go to seed, it will produce flowers. And that’s how the seeds are obtained.

Obviously, most of us home growers just prefer to buy packages of seeds and plant those.

There aren’t many who actually let their carrots go to seed in order to collect the needed seeds for the next harvest. It’s definitely a complicated process, so just buy your seeds and save yourself a lot of trouble.

Carrots: the versatile vegetable

All the following varieties that we’re going to shortly introduce in this article can be cooked or eaten raw.

I’m pretty sure that you’re already familiar with crudités platters that consist of various sticks/strips of raw vegetables and some sort of dip. Among these, carrots and celery are famous members of this ensemble.

Actually, carrots and celery also belong to the same family, the Apiaceae family.

No wonder they go so well together. Another recipe that comes to mind that carrots and celery play an important role in is Bolognese.

And, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this article, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, you should make a carrot cake. It’s always surprising to me that a vegetable can become such a perfect ingredient for a cake.

Carrots varieties

Now that we’ve completely answered the question is carrot a fruit or vegetable, let’s see which are some of the most interesting varieties.

First of all, carrots can be grouped by color. I am very well aware that orange is the predominant color variety that we grow and eat but there are other very exciting colors to try raw or to cook with.

According to Sow True Seed, the earliest cultivated carrots originated in Afghanistan in the 10th century and were probably purple.

The orange varieties that we all use today are actually a creation of Dutch plant breeders in the 17th century. So, maybe we should also give those other colors a try, they look fabulous.

The main colors to try are: orange, purple, yellow, white or go for a seeds mix that contains rainbow carrots.

Orange varieties

  • Imperator – have very long roots, up to 10 inches long, and due to their sweet taste are amazing when eaten raw; an interesting fact is that most baby carrots are made from these long and skinny Imperator carrots
  • Danvers – these are the generic ones with medium length roots (6-7 inches long)
  • Nantes – this is an heirloom from France that only grows about 3-4 inches long, they’re quite short and have almost the same diameter from end to end, they taste sweet
  • Chantenay – have short and conical roots that can grow in clay and rocky soils better than any other variety

Are carrots easy to grow?

There are just a few aspects you need to consider if you want to grow this root vegetable at home: you need loose, sandy soil and you need to sow the seeds in the cooler periods of the growing season (spring and fall).

If you are aware that your soil is not sandy at all, then choose the Chantenay variety. Due to its short root size, the roots will grow in clay and rocky soil better than all the other varieties.

However, for the other varieties, a sandy soil is needed so that the roots can grow unobstructed.

That’s especially true when it comes to the Imperator variety, which has the longest root.

Even so, whatever their shape and even if they don’t end up having perfect straight roots, your carrots will taste better than anything you’ll get from a supermarket.

With the occasion of answering the question is carrot a fruit or vegetable, I wanted to let you know that it’s quite possible to grow this root vegetable at home if you have a bit of space in your garden.