Anchor roots (ANRs) arise at the root-shoot junction and are the least investigated type of Arabidopsis root. Here, we show that ANRs originate from pericycle cells in an auxin-dependent manner and a carotenogenic signal to emerge. By screening known and assumed carotenoid derivatives, we identified anchorene, a presumed carotenoid-derived dialdehyde (diapocarotenoid), as the specific signal needed for ANR formation. We demonstrate that anchorene is an Arabidopsis metabolite and that its exogenous application rescues the ANR phenotype in carotenoid-deficient plants and promotes the growth of normal seedlings. Nitrogen deficiency resulted in enhanced anchorene content and an increased number of ANRs, suggesting a role of this nutrient in determining anchorene content and ANR formation. Transcriptome analysis and treatment of auxin reporter lines indicate that anchorene triggers ANR formation by modulating auxin homeostasis. Together, our work reveals a growth regulator with potential application to agriculture and a new carotenoid-derived signaling molecule.