Parsnip

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© Photo: Petréa Mitchell
A parsnip root. © Photo: Petréa Mitchell

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a biennial plant cultivated for its edible fleshy root. It is native to Siberia, but was cultivated in Europe at least as far back as Roman times.

Parsnips are grown in temperate areas throughout the world. They are sown widely spaced in the late spring. Most varieties are harvested after their first exposure to frost, which is believed to enhance the flavor. Further frost or very cold storage tends to make them sweeter.

Parsnips can be eaten raw, but are most often cooked in soups and stews.