Are There Black Carrots?

The first carrots to be recorded historically into cultivation were purple carrots. Improvements in time have led to purple carrots that look very black in color.

colorful in different colors, copy space

colorful in different colors, copy space

colorful in different colors on wooden cutting board, copy space, top view, vertical

Photo by: Guzin Taskiran

Guzin Taskiran

Some may think that purple carrots almost look like black carrots become the anthocyanins is higher in these varieties than others, but it is typically just a very dark pigment of purple.

Carrots were first cultivated in Afghanistan approximately 1,100 years ago and the flesh of these carrots was purple. It wasn’t until the 16th century when the Dutch starting selecting specific carrot seeds that bred specifically for an orange colored carrot. Prior to this time carrots were broken down into two categories:

1.    Eastern/Asiatic Carrots 

The taproots of these carrots had traditional purple flesh due to the anthocyanins which are naturally occurring pigments in the tissue of the plant. Yellow carrots were also part of this grouping. The foliage was typically grey-green and these varieties had a tendency to bolt quicker than newer genetics.

2.    Western Carrots 

The taproots of these carrots were red, orange or white. It is thought that this group derived from the Eastern carrots through selection. The red and orange carrots are considered natural mutations of yellow carrots. Western carrots were also referred to as carotene carrots and are throught to have been first cultivated in the Netherlands during the 16th or 17th century. White carrots are the closest related to the wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) in coloration.

Purple carrots are very natural, however, the initial colors of carrots is starting to become more apparent to multiple gardeners and common consumers. Although in the United States carrots are typically orange in other regions in the world they differ in color. Those gorgeous differences are starting to be seen and celebrated among the gardening and food communities growing the demand for such colorful snacks.

Root Vegetables: Carrots, Beets, Parsnips

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Carrot ‘Parmex’

Dumpy, spherical roots make this one of the best carrots for sowing into patio pots or shallow soil. Despite their shape, they have a fine sweet flavor. The earliest crops can be sown under glass or protected with cloches.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot 'Infinity’ F1

This late maincrop carrot has an elegant, slender root that is delicious raw or cooked. The sweet carrots are deep orange right to their core and keep well in the soil into fall or can be lifted and stored successfully.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ F1

As its name suggests, this variety has unconventional dark purple roots, which reveal contrasting orange cores when they are sliced. Flavor is not sacrificed and is particularly good when raw.

Sow: Early spring to early summer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening

Carrot 'Bangor’ F1

Long, stocky roots are produced in large quantities, especially in moist soil, by this excellent maincrop variety. Crops can be harvested from late summer and throughout fall, and store well once lifted.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Flyaway’ F1

Specially bred to be less prone to attack by carrot flies, this maincrop carrot produces good crops where the pest would render others inedible. The stout, cylindrical roots are smooth-skinned and sugary.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Carson’ F1

Fall and winter bring good cropsof this medium-sized, tapering variety. The rich orange color, combined with the delicious crunchy texture and sweetness, makes them irresistible when eaten raw.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late summer to early winter
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Boltardy’

A reliable variety yielding traditional deep red globe-shaped roots with a fine sweet flavor. Perfect for sowing under cloches in early spring because of its excellent resistance to bolting.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Pablo’ F1

One of the best varieties for growing in patio containers and perfect to harvest as baby beets. The smooth, deep red, spherical roots taste exceptionally sweet; they also stand well in the soil without bolting or becoming woody.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Chioggia Pink’

A beautiful curiosity; the rich red skin of this spherical root conceals flesh marked with concentric rings of blush pink and white. Its sweet, mild flavor is delightful raw or cooked.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Forono’

Elongated, burgundy-colored roots make this variety ideal for slicing. Tender young roots have a particularly intense flavor, so sow successionally for a continuous supply. Prone to bolting if sown too early.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsnip ‘Gladiator’ F1

A popular hybrid parsnip that matures quickly, producing consistently reliable, early-maturing crops of white-skinned roots. ‘Gladiator’ also benefits from good canker resistance.

Sow: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid-fall to early spring
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsnip ‘Tender and True’

In deep soil, this variety forms exceptionally long roots, which are often considered to have one of the finest parsnip flavors. It is also resistant to canker and is a firm favorite with exhibition growers.

Sow: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Late fall to early spring
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Here are some varieties of dark purple carrots that almost look black to some gardeners:

‘Black Knight’ – The exterior of this carrot is a very dark purple and the center is a white. It has a firm texture and a mild flavor. It can be somewhat difficult to find seeds, but there are some sources online. The carrots mature in 85 days and typically are about 6 to 8 inches in length. 

‘Pusa Asita Black’ – Coming from incredible breeding work done in India. This almost black carrot is delicious roasted with other root vegetables. The dark purple color is naturally occurring pigment in carrots called anthocyanins. Grows extremely well in rocky soil and well suited for southern gardens. Recommended to let some carrots go to flower to collect seeds and share with other gardeners for planting the next year. 

‘Purple Sun’ – This variety is most unique because its striking, strong purple pigmentation is from the skin to the core. Most varieties are typically either white or orange in the center, but this variety remains purple. In 90 days, you will be marveling at the beauty of this carrot and sharing it with your gardening friends. Purple carrots are full of Anthocyanins, which have amazing health benefits making not only fun to eat, but great for your body as well. 

‘Spanish Black’ - A gorgeous, heirloom variety that has purple outer flesh with the interior being white. This old world classic is becoming endangered in parts of Europe and highly recommended to plant both for harvest of roots and flowers. All carrots are biennial and this variety does take two years to produce seeds; important to keep in mind while growing.  

Try finding Kanji and Salgam which are both popular drinks made from black carrots and can be found in Turkish grocery stores. Gajar Kanji is also a popular, fermented drink from India. Or now that you will be growing your own black carrots, juice them and make a black carrot drink of your own!

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