Carrots taken from History of the Carrot Part Five –  The Road to Domestication and the Color Orange.

The Foure Bookes of Husbandrie, collected by Conrad Heresbach 1577 make reference to Red and Yellow Carrots thus:

Redde and Yellowe Carrettes – You have also in this Garden red Carrets, I have some Yellowe Carrets. Plinie inviteth that Tiberius was so in love with this roote, that he caused Carrets to be yeerley brought him out of Germanie, from the Castell of Geluba standing upon the Rhine.

It delighteth in colde places, and is sowed before the kalendes of Marche, and of some in September; but the third and the best kind of sowing as some thinke, is in August.

There is also Wilde Carret, a kind of Parsnep. There are those that suppose it to be the yellowe roote, that is so common in Germanie, they are to be sowed in March. It is general that they be wello troden uppon, or kept cut, so the end the rootes may growe the greater.”  (Copy of original page here)

By the 17th century both the purple and yellow carrot are well established in England. John Gerard writes in the Herball (1597); “The root is long, thicke and single, of a faire yellow colour, pleasant to be eaten, and very sweet in taste. There is another kind hereof like to the former in all parts, and differeth from it only in the colour of the root, which in this is not yellow, but of a blackish red colour.”

This seems to indicate that the yellow carrot starts to replace the purple by the beginning of the 17th century. Giacomo Castelvetro writes in The Fruits, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy (1614): “We prepare salads from pink and yellow carrots, roasted or boiled in the same way, and turnips as well.”

Parkinson writes in Paradisi in sol (1629); “the roote is round and long, thicke above and small below, wither red or yellow, either shorter or longer, according to his kinde; for there is one kinde, whose roote is wholly red quite throughout; another whose root is red without for a pretty way inward, but the middle is yellow.” He describes several yellow varieties with both long and short roots saying that one of the long yellow varieties is; “of a deepe gold yellow colour, and is the best.”

In1665 The Compleat Herball by Robert Lovell of Oxford contained “the summe of ancient and moderne authors, based on observations from the Physick garden in Oxford.”  This again appears to be a reworking of earlier works with a few enhancements. A fuller extract from the work is given here (pdf).

Lovell said “The carrot is red and yellow. The root of the yellow is temperately hot and something moist, of little nourishment, and that not very good, it’s not so windie as the turnep, nor passeth so soon through the belly. The red is of like faculty, the seed of both is hot and dry. The seed breaketh and consumeth windiness and provoketh urine, as that of the wild carrots. The root is usually boyled with fat flesh and eaten.”

carrotoldOne of the first written evidences of an orange carrot, particularly written in English (and therefore cannot be misinterpreted during translation) , written in English – 1677 – A Catalogue of Seeds, Plants &c Sold by Will’m: Lucas at the Naked Boy near Strand Bridge London (C. 1677) – Carrots, red, orang and yellow. (note: orang is how it was spelled) (full list here)

Another good reliable written evidence is the Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis – A Catalogue of plants in the Physical Garden at Edinburgh by James Sutherland intendent of said garden was published in 1683.This work makes reference to Orange, Red, Yellow and White carrots, together with the common Wild Carrot. It and also distinguishes them from Parsnip as a separate plant.(See extract here). This is a very useful record as it shows what actually existed in the botanic garden in Edinburgh.

Another reference appears in 1683 – John Reid’s “Scots Gard’ner” here“orenge carrot”

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