Categorized | Projects, Using Nature

Parsnips and Cow Parsnips

I find the similarities intriguing, but one is tame and one is wild. It’s hard to tell the difference between one and the other’s seed heads. I wonder if they originated from the same plant in years gone by. This makes me wish I could compare them regarding their beneficial natures.

Cow Parsnips:


The wild cow parsnip

“Cow parsnip has been used medicinally. The root for toothaches (placed directly to the area) or you can also use a tincture of the root or seeds, it is less irritating to the gums than cloves. The root and seeds are used as an antispasmodic to the intestinal tract. If used in a tea, make sure it is dried first, the tea is used for nausea of a persistent nature, when you have not yet vomited, as well as acid indigestion and heart burn (according to Micheal Moore in Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West). The seeds tinctured are effective for stomach aches, the dose should be one or two drops. Do not use this plant during pregnancy or nursing.”

Sherry: You must pay strict attention to the fact that they contain photosensitizing agents. It can leave marks on you for a long time. It is extremely important that you investigate information on a plant before you dive into the bush after it.


These Parsnip seeds look the same as the wild ones


The root vegetable has similar appearance and growth characteristics as other apiaceae family members like carrots, parsley, celery, cumin, dill etc. In general, it has calories (100 g provide 75 calories) comparable to that of some fruits like banana, grapes etc!! You won’t find that kind of sweetness in the ones you buy on the store shelf because the growers don’t take the time or have the means to expose them to frost before they harvest them.

  • As in carrots and other members of apiaceae family vegetables, parsnip too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.
  • Several research studies from scientists at University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
  • In addition, it also has healthy levels of minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium(interesting!).

Sherry: My verdict is that the guy or woman that named one or the other saw the same similarities as I have and therefore named one after the other, but that is where the similarities end.

I looked up Cumin because I didn’t know that it looks similar. Yes it sure does, only it’s seed it long and narrower. Does cumin grow wild? Yes it does, but not where I live. You’ll find it in southeastern Europe. :( Oh well, I don’t use much of it anyways.

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8 Responses to “Parsnips and Cow Parsnips”

  1. As for me. As a child I once had nothing but parsnips to eat for dinner. I was starved and ate an entire plate full. For years I couldn’t even say the word ‘parsnip’ it would disgust me so much LOL.

  2. Naomi says:

    Cilantro must be in the same family, as well. Fascinating stuff.
    Have you tried to grow carrots from seed? I want to try it next year.

    • Naomi says:

      …I mean I want to grow carrot seed. Haha!

    • sherry says:

      Yes I did, but that year I didn’t like the 5 different colors I had in my carrots. I had to live with them though for 3 years because of the abundance of them that I had. This year I got new seed but there’s still the odd yellow and one red one. I kept some with tops to see if they want to grow next year. I usually stuff them in a bag and they look sick the next spring and do nothing. This time I’m thinking of putting them in pots of soil in the basement. Another plan is to snip off the tops when they first start to grow next summer because I’ve noticed that the ones that had their tops yanked off by accident started to get more roots, woody and bushed out like as if they wanted to go to seed.

  3. Naomi says:

    There is a variety of carrots that a local farmer grows here that I really love. I was thinking I could buy some of their carrots and keep them until spring and grow them. Another option would be to wait until spring and buy them from them. They must have incredible refrigeration (they are a big farm outfit) because they still have bags of carrots in the spring and they are very popular. They are the most amazing carrots on the planet.
    I like the idea of seeing if you can force them to think that it’s the second year of growth. The problem I think is that you might not have time for both phases in a year.
    If I had a proper plot of earth to grow carrots in, I would put a bale of straw right on top of the carrots I wanted to keep and leave them there for the winter.
    I wonder if you could pick the best seed year after year and eventually get a crop you like….
    I need to live on a farm so I can experiment.
    Do they cross pollinate easily between varieties?

    • sherry says:

      I’ve only ever grown the Nantes, so I don’t know about cross pollination. I wish I’d thought of the bale idea. Maybe next year? I’ve left some in over the winter with a big heap of dirt on them, but they all froze into a mushy mess!

      • Naomi says:

        I don’t know what your winters are like up there. Hopefully they are not too harsh for using a bale of straw.
        My only other idea is to just take some that survive the winter in sand and plant them out in the spring. I think that should work well if they have a little of the crown on them. I’ve never had the chance to try, though. …yet.


What do you think?