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Parsnip is not only a Russian classic of the 20th century, but also an undeservedly half-forgotten vegetable culture. In recent years, parsnips have attracted more and more interest, increasingly appearing on store shelves and in private households.
In our article, you will learn about the origin of the species, the distribution area, and are there any other names for this vegetable? What are the benefits and harms of this vegetable crop? What varieties are there and how is parsnip grown?
What diseases and pests does a vegetable have? What can be used as a substitute in the preparation of various dishes?
What is this and are there other names?
Parsnip is an umbrella plant from the celery family. The most valuable part of this garden plant is its large white roots, which are essentially thickened roots that accumulate useful substances (similar to potatoes and carrots).
The name of the plant "Pasternak" took root in the Russian language, being borrowed from German. It originates from the Latin pastināre - "to dig". In different regions of Russia, parsnips were also called "pustarnak", "white root", "popovnik" and "field borscht". The scientific names of this plant are "meadow parsnip", "common parsnip" and "sowing parsnip" (Pastináca sátiva).
Parsnips are often confused with parsley root. due to the fact that the roots of both plants are popularly called the "white root".
What does it look like?
Parsnip is a biennial plant. Its straight and thick stem can reach up to 2 meters in height. The lower part of the stem does not contain branches, is rough, may be covered with fluff; the upper, smaller in length, actively gives side shoots.
The bright yellow flowers of the parsnip are grouped in umbrellas of up to 15 rays, similar to enlarged dill inflorescences. The fruits of the sowing parsnip are dry achenes, have the shape of a round flattened disk, colored in shades of yellow and brown.
The long and large feathery leaves are very similar in appearance to celery foliage. On the upper side, turned towards the Sun, they are smooth to the touch, and below they are rough. Usually arranged in pairs.
Thick, fleshy root vegetables exude a sweetish pleasant smell. They are painted uniformly whitish and firm to the touch. They have a rounded or oblong shape. Externally, they are similar to carrots.
Here you can see a photo of sowing parsnip:
Parsnip grows in central and southern Russia, in Central Asia and the Caucasus. In the wild, parsnips grow in areas of clearings and dry lowlands. It is found only in a cultured form.
History and origin of the species
Parsnips have been cultivated for several thousand years. The first to grow it were the Peruvian Indians of the Quechua tribe. The Peruvian parsnip variety, aracacha, has earned the nickname "Peruvian carrot" due to the fact that its roots taste like carrots. This is a purely tropical variety, so, alas, it does not take root in the Russian climate.
The oldest seeds of parsnip were found during excavations of sites and settlements of primitive people who lived in the Neolithic era (several thousand years BC). The first surviving mention of parsnips was found in the works of learned men from Ancient Rome, Dioscorides and Pliny, and date back to around the 1st century BC.
On the territory of Russia, parsnips took root in the 17th century. Before the widespread use of potatoes, parsnip, which was then more commonly called white root or field borscht, was one of the most popular crops.
Benefit and harm
The meaty roots of parsnips are a natural storehouse of vitamins and minerals. In terms of a set of nutrients, they are similar to spinach leaves. They contain a lot:
- vitamins A, C and B vitamins;
- potassium, phosphorus and silicon;
- easily digestible carbohydrates;
- essential oils;
- fructose and sucrose.
Eating parsnip roots contributes to:
- Improved appetite.
- Strengthening the immune system and the nervous system.
- Better sleep.
- Improving the functioning of the digestive system.
- Coughing up phlegm when coughing.
- Reducing pain in colic in the liver and stomach.
- Removal of water from the body.
- Expanding and relieving spasms of blood vessels.
The substances in the roots make the skin more sensitive to sunlight and ultraviolet light. Parsnip essential oils are an aphrodisiac.
Parsnip roots are sometimes used as feed for cows and pigs. Besides, parsnips have long been used in the manufacture of cosmetics. Its essential oils can smooth wrinkles, make skin firmer and healthier, so they are often added to various anti-aging creams and face masks.
Dried root vegetables and young parsnip leaves can be added to soups and salads as a condiment. Parsnip roots are a common ingredient in canned vegetables. And by frying finely chopped root vegetables, you can get a dish that tastes like fried potatoes (you can find out about the unusual properties of parsnip root, as well as its use in cooking, baby food and traditional medicine).
Attention! The roots of the plant should not be eaten by young children and the elderly.
- A decoction of root vegetables is an effective analgesic and diuretic, can be used to strengthen the strength of seriously ill people.
- Alcoholic tincture of root vegetables in the old days was used to increase appetite and mood.
- Also, raw materials for such medicines as "Beroxan", "Eupiglin" and furocumalin pastinacin are obtained from parsnips.
Read more about the beneficial properties of parsnips and how they are used in folk and official medicine here.
On the territory of Russia and the CIS, 15 species of parsnip grow. The most common:
Other varieties that have been bred relatively recently are described below.
An unpretentious variety with aromatic delicate root crops with excellent taste.
A frost-resistant variety, the roots of which easily tolerate wintering.
A cultivar with white, sweet, turnip-like roots.
The growing conditions for parsnips are similar to those for carrots, as a result, they are often grown together. Parsnip loves light and moisture, unpretentious to watering.
Favorite soils are loose sandy loam and loam with a high content of chernozem. Suitable for growing in all types of soil.
Sowing seeds is done in early spring. (depending on the climate - in March or April).
- Before planting, plant seeds are recommended to be soaked in growth stimulants for 2-3 days.
- Then rinse in warm water and dry thoroughly.
The price for 1 gram of seeds ranges from 15-20 rubles.
You can resort to germinating seeds:
- To do this, place them in a humid environment - for example, wrap them in periodically moistened gauze for a period of 2 weeks.
- After the moistened seeds germinate, "harden" them by placing the cheesecloth in the refrigerator for several hours.
- When planting, place the seeds approximately 1.5 cm deep.
- After the first shoots appear (they are usually noticeable 2-3 weeks after sowing), thin the plants so that the distance between them is at least 5 cm.
- After about a month, re-thinning, increasing the distance between shoots by 2 times.
Plant care is reduced to abundant, but rare watering, as well as periodic infrequent loosening and weeding of the soil. Liquid mineral fertilizers can be applied to the soil under an adult plant (maximum 4 times per year).
The plant blooms in the second half of summer. Root crops ripen in September-October, reaching maturity not earlier than October. By the end of autumn, their length can reach 40 cm, and their weight can be several kilograms. Root crops of some varieties of parsnips need to be dug out only with the onset of spring, at the end of autumn, cutting off the entire stem of the plant.
When digging up large roots, gently pry them with a pitchfork to keep them intact. Freshly harvested roots must be dried in a cool place (for example, a basement or cellar), covered with sand.
Diseases and pests
Parsnips are not very susceptible to diseases and pests. The main threats are wet rot caused by bacteria, septoria and caraway moth.
Prevention of the appearance of various problems
- Avoid over-watering or stagnant water in the soil. This can provoke root rot.
- It is advisable to plant parsnips the next year after the soil has been fertilized with manure - if you do this in the same year, the plant will be very branchy, and its stem will take more moisture and nutrients from the root crop.
- Be careful: in hot weather, the leaves of the plant can release burning essential oils, with unprotected contact with which it is easy to burn the skin. Therefore, when working with adult plants, protect your hands with gloves.
What to replace?
As a substitute for parsnips in dishes, vegetables similar in taste can be used, for example, turnips, carrots, or parsley root.
Growing parsnips is inexpensive and without much hassle, but its fruits have a huge number of beneficial properties. That is why its roots are increasingly found on dining tables and counters.