The wild carrot, native to temperate areas of Europe and southeast Asia, is able to grow in a variety of environments, including coastal areas. It can also thrive in dry conditions since its long tap root allows it to seek out water sources deep underground. It prefers calcareous (alkaline) soils and does not like repeated cutting or grazing. It can also withstand nutritionally poor soils, but the area must be free draining.
Since it does not cope well with grazing because of the delicate young shoots, it is often found on lightly grazed grassland or wasteland.
The plant can grow up to 1m tall while the large flower heads, approximately 5cm diameter, are white in colour apart from a small central area which can be a pink-red colour. Flowering takes place between June and August and once this has ended the forked bracts which held the flowers are clearly visible and the concave nature of the head takes on a 'bird's nest' appearance. If left uncut, it will remain through the winter.