before the 17th century, almost all carrots cultivated were purple. The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot, including yellow and white carrots and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.
Before this, pretty much all
carrots were purple with mutated versions occasionally popping up
including the yellow and white carrots. These however were rarely
cultivated and lacked the purple pigment anthocyanin, which gave carrots
back then their distinctive purple color.
It is thought that
the modern day orange carrot was developed by crossing the mutated
yellow and white rooted carrots as well as varieties of wild carrots,
which are quite distinct from cultivated carrots.