Purple Haze Carrots
This is a great looking carrot. Purple Haze was an AAS (All American Selection) winner in 2006. The taste is good, not as sweet as some of the great orange selections such as Mokum, but good -- maybe even great when cooked. But they really are something to behold. The carrot genus is Daucus, and the name originates from the Greek and Latin variations of the word "horn", due to the shape. The carrots ancestors was a more woody taproot that was found in the mountains of the Middle East -- Iran and Afghanistan. Arab farmers and tradespeople introduced carrots to the West around the 9th or 10th century.
Early use of Daucus sp. were for the seeds and tops, not the root. Relatives such as cumin, fennel, dill are still primarily used for the tops or seeds. The orange carrot was selected by a scientist and farmer from the Netherlands in the 1700's. These varieties were more abundant in beta carotene, which all nutritionists think of when they consider the carrot. Other interesting names for carrots have been: bee's nest, bee hive, bird nest plant, daucon and laceflower. For the latter, think of the relative Queen Anne's Lace. Many early westerner market goers thought of the carrot as an orange parsnip.
Orlando took a great photo of this purple variety the other day at the washing station: