The cultivated carrot is a hybrid of the wild carrot. There are 13 subspecies of carrots–12 wild taxa and 1 cultivated taxon. Hundreds of varieties of carrots exist and differ in shape, color, size, roots, and taste. The orange carrot is the most widely cultivated, and is the most recognized color variety in the world.
The orange is due to the high level of carotene, which is a yellow-orange plant pigment that becomes obvious in leaves of plants when green chlorophyll breaks down during autumn of when the plant suffers from poor nutrition Other colors of carrots exist such as purple, white, cream, red, and yellow. Originally, carrots were cream, white and purple and only became orange 400 years ago through crossbreeding.
A big portion of carrot production is used to make specialty products like baby carrots, carrots shreds, coins, and sticks. Fresh-cut processed carrots are usually harvested at an early stage when they are not yet mature, in which case they are sweeter and have crunchier and more supple texture.
One of the most ubiquitous varieties of carrot is the Nantes, which is also the easiest to grow in the home garden. It is a sweet and crisp variety that is six to seven inches in size and cylindrical in shape with blunt tips. Nantes grows best in heavy and rocky soils. Other popular varieties include the Danvers, which is high in fiber and low in sugar content. It is an American variety that is good for sowing in the summer and storing in the winter. Chantenay are short and wide varieties that are best for cultivating in heavy soils.
The sea carrot grows in the wild in the British Isles and is very similar to the wild carrot but is generally stouter, with darker green leaves and succulent stems. It only grows in the southern parts of England, typically near the sea. Cream-colored are sometimes mistaken for parsnips. It has a crunchy texture and sweeter than the orange carrot.