A biennial plant of the celery family. Parsnip is a forgotten medicinal herb, a dyeing plant, and also an aphrodisiac. It can be a source of simple sugars and disaccharides, and indirectly biofuels and ethanol. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.

SKU: N013

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About the species

Polish name: common parsnip

Latin Name: Pastinaca sativa L.

Family: the celeries Apiaceae (umbellifers Umbeliferae)

Status in Poland: native or established since Ancient history

Flower color:
to approx. 120 cm


A imposing biennial plant with pinnate leaves, angularly furrowed stem, yellow-greenish inflorescences, and wide flat schizocarps. The inflorescence shoot is slightly ciliated, always angularly furrowed. Root with a strong aroma, elongated, in wild forms become woody early, spindle-shaped, and very thin, rather smelly.

Lower leaves with petioles and sheaths, upper sessile. However, all of them are pinnate with two-seven pairs of lanceolate-ovate lobate leaflets.

Inflorescence in the form of an umbel with 5-20 radiuses, usually devoid of involucres and involucels. Distinct fivefold symmetry: 5 a bit indistinct calyx notches and 5 stamens. Single flowers are almost always bisexual and protandrous, sometimes only male flowers appear in the side umbels. Yellowish or yellow-greenish petals, with a lobe on the apex.

The fruit of the parsnip is a schizocarp, divided into two flattened, broadly elliptical mericarps with 5 ribs and side wings: the dorsal ribs of the cleft protrude and the side ribs are winged. The seeds are probably of the orthodox type, TSW is 3.0-4.1 g, and germination from 18 to 33%.

Additional information


It prefers sunny places, with a sandy but highly calcium-rich soil, grows poorly in heavy clay, loam, and rocky soils. It is a thermophilic and nitrogen-loving plant.

The first year of parsnips is the basal rosette of erect leaves approx. 40 cm high. In the second year, it produces stems slightly hairy at the base.

Working with parsnips, especially weed forms, can cause photosensitization and skin burns, as they contain a lot of furanocoumarins.

Interesting facts

Parsnips is a forgotten medicinal herb and dyeing plant in Eurasia, and at the same time a persistent and increasingly dangerous weed in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southeast Asia.

It can be a source of simple sugars and disaccharides, and indirectly biofuels and ethanol. In ancient times it replaced as a great source of starch (together with another vegetable from the celery family, which is now forgotten: skirret Sium sisarum) unknown at the time potatoes. At the same time it was, next to bee honey, birch and maple, the main source of disaccharides for the peoples of the North, and the Romans in Gaul and Britain.

It was so highly valued as an aphrodisiac and a means to whet appetite that Emperor Tiberius ordered the Germans to pay him tribute in the form of parsnips. Today it is sold as parsley sometimes.

Parsnip in seed mixtures:

Use Value

Parsnip is self-pollinating or pollinated by flies, hymenopterans, and scales (butterflies and moths).

It is sometimes considered a honey plant.

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