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Pastinaca sativa

Pronunciation: Pas-tin-nay-kuh sa-tee-vuh
Family: Apiaceae/umbelliferae (carrot family)
Common Name: Parsnip, wild parsnip
Plant Type:
  • biennial
Height to: 1'-2'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -30 to -40ºF ZONE 3
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Parsnips are grown for their thick, tapered, white rootstock which is used much like the root of the closely related carrot the parsnip is actually a biennial, growing its foliage and storage-organ root in its first year, and flowering and dying the second year. Like other members of the apiaceae (a. K. A. Umbeliferae), the parsnip's flowers are arranged in compound umbels
Soil Type: A slightly moisture retentive soil, but they do not need to be watered much since the enlarged rootstock carries them through dry spells. Parsnips don't do well in hot, dry climates.
Propagation: Plant parsnip seeds a half-inch (1. 75 cm) deep, and expect germination in 2-3 weeks. Parsnip seeds are notoriously short lived. You will usually need to get fresh seeds each season, although i have had some success with year-old seeds that had been stored in the refrigerator. The most perfectly shaped parsnips are grown by creating a conical planting hole in the ground with a crow bar or dibble, filling the hole with a fine potting mix, and then planting the parsnip seed near the top of the hole.
Native to: Northern europe and western asia, where it grows in open grasslands, often on calcareous soils. The parsnip has escaped cultivation and become an invasive weed in much of north america except the southeastern states. In ohio, parsnip is listed as a prohibited noxious weed. Note, however, that the feral or wild parsnip, although the same species, is not quite the same as the cultivated form. Wild parsnips have smaller, less flavorful rootstocks than those grown for food.
Notes for Identification: Home grown parsnips are so much better than the shriveled and dried corpses you find at the supermarket. Home grown parsnips (pulled after at least one frost) are crisper and more flavorful. They have a sweet, almost nutty flavor and are especially delectable sauteed in butter. Before the potato conquered europe in the sixteenth century, the parsnip was the dominant starchy food, served with most meals. Parsnips are similar to potatoes, but much sweeter, and like potatoes, they can be mashed, fried, boiled or baked. Some cooks regularly include a parsnip or two in their mashed potatoes. Raw parsnips are delicious shredded in salads or cole slaw, or sliced and served with a cheese dip.
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • Less then 1 day ZONE 1
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Biennial
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