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Hotchkiss, CO 81419



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Wild caraway

Carum carvi L.


Keys to Identification

  • First year rosettes can be identified by their carrot-like leaves and slender tuber.
  • Mature plants have hollow stems, and produce small, white or pink flowers in umbrella-like clusters

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program


Family: Parsley (Apiaceae)


Other Names: none widely accepted




Legal Status: Colorado Noxious Weed List B




Growth form: Biennial, or sometimes perennial forb


Flower: Flowers are small, white or pinkish, and occur in terminal or lateral loose clusters.


Seeds/Fruit: Seeds are narrow, oblong, brown, and have 5 distinct tan, linear, ribs.


Leaves: Shoot leaves are alternate and normally oblong or oval. Stem leaves resemble those of carrots in shape but tend to droop more.


Stems: Mature plants are 1-3 ft tall and have one or more shoots emerging from a single taproot. Shoots are slender, erect, branching, and normally hollow.


Roots: Taproot.


Seedling: no information available.


Other: Fruits have distinctive caraway odor.



Similar Species

Exotics: Somewhat similar to poison hemlock (Conium maculata), but lacks spotted stems.


Natives: Other members of the Parsley family are similar in overall appearance. Be sure to note root and fruit characteristics, flower color and foliage odor for successful identification.




Agricultural: Can be a pest in hay meadows.


Ecological: Wild caraway can invade disturbed areas and push out native vegetation. It is a prolific seed producer and can spread rapidly.




Habitat and Distribution

General requirements: Wild caraway is commonly found in mountain meadows, hayfields, and along irrigation ditches and roadsides. It prefers full sun and well drained soils.


Distribution: Widely naturalized in the northern United States and Canada.


Historical: Wild caraway was introduced into the U.S. as a cultivated species (Whitson et al. 1996), but escaped and is now widespread throughout the country. The seeds are used as medicine and the leaves are sometimes used in salads and soups (GardenGuides 1999).




Life cycle: Wild caraway spends the first year as a leafy rosette. The second year the plant bolts and flowers. The stems of the delicate flowers produce seed cases, each containing two seeds (GardenGuides 1999).


Mode of reproduction: Seed.


Seed production: Under ideal conditions, each plant may produce several thousand seeds.


Seed bank: No information available.


Dispersal: No information available.




GardenGuides. 1999. Herb guide, caraway (Carum carvi). . Internet: 3/5/99. Available:


Rutledge, Chris R. and Dr. Terry McLendon. No Year. An Assessment of Exotic Plant Species of Rocky Mountain National Park. Department of Rangeland Ecosystem Science, Colorado State University. 97pp.


Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 1996. Wild caraway. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark CA. pg. 18.



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