|Meg Gross harvests the last of 2011's Parsnip crop yesterday|
at the Univ of Md Extension Public Demonstration Garden in Carroll County.
- The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g of parsnip contains 75 Calories (230 kJ) of energy.
- While the root of the parsnip is edible, the handling of its shoots and leaves requires protective clothing. Like many other members of the Apiaceae family, the parsnip contains furanocoumarin, a photosensitive chemical that causes a condition known as phytophotodermatitis. The condition is a type of chemical burn rather than an allergic reaction and should be treated as such. Symptoms include redness, burning, tingling, and blisters (often in the shape of the streak where the plant juices brushed against the body) within 24–48 hours of exposure.
- When gardening parsnips, gloves and long sleeves are advised. If bare skin does come into contact with the upper part of a parsnip plant, the area should be washed immediately and kept out of sunlight. A cool, indoor area is best as a retreat, as sweat can aid in the absorption of the toxin, and sunlight activates its deleterious effects. Should a rash appear, the area may be treated similar to a burn and a physician or pharmacist ought to be consulted.
- Parsnips are considered winter vegetables, since low soil temperatures are necessary to develop their flavor. They are a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clayey, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short, forked roots.
- Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Harvesting can begin in late fall after the first frost, and continue through winter until the ground freezes over. More than almost any other vegetable seed, parsnip seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.
- In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac.
- In the United States, this plant was introduced by British colonists as a root vegetable. In the mid-19th century, it was replaced by the potato and consequently escaped from cultivation. New cultivars continued to be developed and disseminated, including the 'Student' cultivar, developed by James Buckman.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnips