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**Botanical Information and Taxonomy:**
Parsnip is scientifically classified as Pastinaca sativa.
– Officially described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753.
– Acquired several synonyms in its taxonomic history.
– Several subspecies and varieties of P. sativa have been described.
– Chromosome number of P. sativa is 2n=22.
– Wild parsnip is the same taxon as the cultivated version.

**Distribution, Habitat, and Invasivity:**
– Native to Eurasia, parsnips have spread beyond their native range.
– Wild populations have become established in various parts of the world.
– Can form dense stands that outcompete native species.
– Particularly common in abandoned yards, farmland, and along roadsides.
– Increasing abundance in populated areas like parks is a concern.
– Control methods often involve chemical means, with glyphosate herbicides effective.

**Propagation and Problems:**
– Parsnips are biennials but are usually grown as annuals.
– Preferred soils for growth are sandy and loamy.
– Seeds should be planted in early spring for best viability.
– Low soil temperatures convert starches in roots into sugars, giving them a sweeter taste.
– Problems include tunneling by larvae of celery fly and carrot fly, parsnip canker, watery soft rot, violet root rot, powdery mildew, and viral infections.

**Toxicity and Uses:**
Parsnip sap contains furanocoumarins causing phytophotodermatitis.
– Symptoms include redness, burning, blisters, and skin discoloration.
– Exposure to sap can cause blindness.
– Toxic properties of parsnip extracts are resistant to heating and storage.
– Uses include baking, boiling, pureeing, roasting, frying, grilling, and steaming for various dishes.
– Used in stews, soups, casseroles, as a thickening agent, and in making crisps, wine, and historically believed to be an aphrodisiac.

**Nutrition and Historical Significance:**
– 100g of parsnip provides 314kJ (75kcal) of energy.
– Rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium, B-group vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
– Most parsnip cultivars consist of 80% water, 5% sugar, and 5% dietary fiber.
– Cooking reduces vitamin C levels.
– Historically valued in Rome, used as a sugar source in Europe, and mentioned in various historical texts for its medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.

Parsnip (Wikipedia)

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable closely related to carrot and parsley, all belonging to the flowering plant family Apiaceae. It is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long taproot has cream-colored skin and flesh, and, left in the ground to mature, becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts. In its first growing season, the plant has a rosette of pinnate, mid-green leaves. If unharvested, it produces a flowering stem topped by an umbel of small yellow flowers in its second growing season, later producing pale brown, flat, winged seeds. By this time, the stem has become woody, and the tap root inedible. Precautions should be taken when handling the stems and foliage, as parsnip sap can cause a skin rash or even blindness if exposed to sunlight after handling.

Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Pastinaca
P. sativa
Binomial name
Pastinaca sativa
Pastinaca sativa fruits and seeds
Flowering parsnip, second year

The parsnip is native to Eurasia; it has been used as a vegetable since antiquity and was cultivated by the Romans, although some confusion exists between parsnips and carrots in the literature of the time. It was used as a sweetener before the arrival of cane sugar in Europe.

Parsnips are usually cooked but can also be eaten raw. The flesh has a sweet flavor, even more so than carrots, but the taste is different. It is high in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals (especially potassium); and also contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Parsnips are best cultivated in deep, stone-free soil. The plant is attacked by the carrot fly and other insect pests, as well as viruses and fungal diseases, of which canker is the most serious.

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