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Pastinaca sativa

Pastinaca sativa L.

Pastinaca sativa L. var. pratensis Pers.

Parsnip, Wild Parsnip

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderApialesIncludes carrots, celery, parsley, and ivy
FamilyApiaceaeCarrot or parsley family, also includes angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, cicely, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, Queen Anne’s Lace, parsnip
GenusPastinacaOne source says from the Latin pastino, “ to prepare the ground for planting,” while another says from the Latin pastus, “food.” This was the ancient name of the parsnip and may give a clue as to the origin of the Italian word pasta
SpeciessativaMeans “that which is sown,” indicating the plant is a cultivated one

About plant names...

Wild parsnip is native to Europe and Asia, but was long ago introduced for cultivation to North America, where it is now widespread. It is common in disturbed soils. It shows up in fields, prairies, meadows, roadsides, and waste areas. It is class­ified as invasive or borderline invasive in many areas, such as Yellowstone National Park.

Plants: 24-60" (60-152 cm) tall, with smooth (glabrous), angular, hollow, ribbed stems.

Leaves: Alternate, odd pinnate, lobed, and toothed. Lower leaves have longer stems (petioles), and are up to 18" (45 cm) long × 6" (15 cm) across. Leaves closer to the top are up to 3" (7.6 cm) × 2" (5 cm), on shorter petioles.

Flowers: Yellow, in umbels 3-8" (7.6-20 cm) across. Umbels are flat or umbrella-shaped, composed of 15-25 umbellets. Each umbellet in turn contains between 12 and 35 flowers. Individual flowers are about ⅛" (3.2 mm) around, with five petals. Flowers appear from July to August.

Fruits: Each flower becomes a single seed ⅛-¼" (5-7 mm) in size. Seeds are indehiscent—that is, they don’t split open when they ripen. Each seed is surrounded by small “wings.”

Edibility: Although foliage can cause phytophotodermatitis, roots are edible, and smaller and sweeter than those of cultivated parsnips. Roots are sweeter if harvested after some autumn frosts, and may be baked or eaten raw.

Medical: Leaves and stems can cause phytophotodermatitis: skin irritation or blistering if handled in the presence of sunlight, due to the presence of furocoumarins. Accounts vary: some say the effect is rare, mild, or short-lived, while others warn of more severe effects. Wild parsnip foliage and roots are used in some folk medicines, and although it is not known to be harmful in prescribed amounts, neither has it been studied for efficacy.

Online References:

Pastinaca sativa at Illinois Wildflowers

Pastinaca sativa on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org

Pastinaca sativa at Minnesota Wildflowers

Pastinaca sativa on www.invasiveplantatlas.org

Pastinaca sativa on www.thepoisongarden.co.uk

Pastinaca sativa on Plants for a Future

Pastinaca sativa at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

References:

Multiple Authors, PDR for Herbal Medicines, Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007, p. 632

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/15/2012 · Slipway Restaurant, Thomaston, ME
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/15/2012 · Slipway Restaurant, Thomaston, ME
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/15/2012 · Slipway Restaurant, Thomaston, ME
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Pastinaca sativa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 4 Aug 2019.

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Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/15/2012 · Slipway Restaurant, Thomaston, ME
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm) ID is uncertain

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/19/2017 · WV
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 18 cm)

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/19/2017 · WV
≈ 4 × 2½" (10 × 6.7 cm)

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/19/2017 · WV
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/19/2017 · WV
≈ 4½ × 2½" (11 × 7.3 cm)

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

7/19/2017 · WV

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip, Wild Parsnip)

Seeds from a cultivar. · 1/16/2019 · Gordon and Kathy’s, Prospect, ME

Range: Zones 4-8:

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