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Toxic parts

Skin contact with the sap can cause photosensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people[1][2][3]. Parsnip is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine[3].

Edible uses


Root - raw or cooked[4][5][6][7][8][9]. When well grown, the cooked root has a very tender texture, though it is rather chewy raw[K]. It is best harvested after there have been some autumn frosts because it will have developed a sweeter flavour[10]. The root is delicious baked, it can also be used in soups etc and can be added to cakes, pies and puddings[9].

Leaves and young shoots - cooked with other greens as a vegetable or added to soups etc[7][9]. Used in early spring[7].

The seed is used as a condiment[7]. Similar in taste to dill[9].

Unknown part


Material uses

The leaves and roots are used to make an insect spray[11]. Roughly chop the leaves and roots, put them in a basin with enough water to cover, leave them overnight then strain and use as an insecticide against aphids and red spider mite[12].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of women's complaints[13]. A poultice of the roots has been applied to inflammations and sores[13]. The root contains xanthotoxin, which is used in the treatment of psoriasis and vitiligo[13]. Xanthotoxin is the substance that causes photosensitivity (see note above on toxicity)[13].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow from late winter to late spring in situ. Seed can be slow to germinate, especially from the earlier sowings[14], it is best to mark the rows by sowing a few radishes with the parsnips. The seed has a short viability, very few will still be viable 15 months after harvesting[14].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Pastinaca sativa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most ordinary well-drained soils[15]. Requires an open situation[16]. Prefers a deep rich soil that is not too stiff[17].

The parsnip is often cultivated in the temperate zone for its edible root, there are a number of named varieties[18][9][14]. Normally cultivated as a winter root crop, some cultivars are faster to mature and can be available in late summer[14]. The roots are very frost hardy and can be left in the ground to be harvested as required, though they can also be lifted in the autumn and stored for a few months[14]. The flowers are very attractive to hover flies and predatory wasps[12]. Plants have very few insect pests, though they are sometimes attacked by carrot root fly[12]. Growing onions with the parsnips can reduce the damage[12].

Roots of the wild form can quite quickly be increased in size by selective breeding and good cultivation, it is possible to obtain good sized roots in only 6 years.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Pastinaca sativa. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Pastinaca sativa.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Pastinaca sativa
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    "image:PastinakePflanzegeerntet.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:PastinakePflanzegeerntet.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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    1. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Cooper. M. and Johnson. A. Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man. HMSO ISBN 0112425291 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    7. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
    9. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    12. ? Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
    13. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    14. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    15. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
    16. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
    17. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    18. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    19. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

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