The culinary versatility of carrots from carrot seeds, combined with their nutrition, ease of growth, and centuries of cultivation, has resulted in a spectrum of shapes, sizes, and colours. Discovering a favourite variety requires some experimentation, but each has its own distinctive qualities. Among the vegetables we consider modern Western carrots, there are four primary carrot seed groups: Imperator, Chantenay, Danvers, and Nantes.
Imperator carrot seed types are the commonest ones you might see in a supermarket. They are long and taper to a pointed tip. One of the reasons they are so reliable for the mass market is that they can be machine-harvested. Chantenay carrots are far stouter. They are short, and often quite wide having broad shoulders tapering to a blunt tip. These carrots are ideal for processing and juicing. The little bits of diced carrots you might find in processed foods are likely from Chantenay stock. Danvers types are known for being conical in shape, with obvious, round shoulders and tapering to a point. These are usually shorter than Imperator types, and work much better in heavy soils. They arose in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1871. Finally, Nantes carrots are nearly cylindrical, with a rounded point. Nantes are bred for sweetness, and are particularly nice for the home garden.