Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in many plants and fruits, most notably the root of carrots, and is often used as a food colouring. It is a precursor to vitamin A in the body and as such, is good for eye health.
Many animal species obtain their characteristic colour from eating foods containing carotenes including flamingos and salmon. Wild flamingos obtain carotenes from shrimps or algae. In captivity, flamingos are fed foods containing carotene, including carrots, to retain their pink colour. Similarly, in humans, excessive consumption of beta-carotene causes carotenodermia, a harmless condition resulting in orange-tinged skin.
We grow the wild carrot, Daucus carota, alongside its closest relatives in the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) section of the Systematic Beds. Most produce attractive feathery foliage and domed or flattened umbels of white flowers attractive to a wide range of pollinating insects.