Ex-Classics Home Page

Gerard's Herbal

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 405. Of Parsnips.

CHAP. 405. Of Parsnips.


Fig. 1469. Garden Parsnip (1)

Fig. 1470. Wild Parsnip (2)


The Description.

            1. The leaves of the tame or Garden Parsnips are broad, consisting of many small leaves fastened to one middle rib like those of the ash tree: the stalk is upright, of the height of a man: the flowers stand upon spoky tufts, of colour yellow; after which cometh the seed flat and round, greater than those of Dill: the root is white, long, sweet, and good to be eaten.

            2. The Wild Parsnip is like to that of the Garden, in leaves, stalk, tuft, yellow flowers, flat and round seed, but altogether lesser: the root is small, hard, woody, and not fit to be eaten.

The Place.

            The Garden Parsnip requireth a fat and loose earth, and that that is digged up deep.

            The Wild Parsnip groweth in untoiled places, especially in the salt marshes, upon the banks and borders of the same: the seed whereof being gathered and brought into the garden, and sowed in fertile ground, do prove better roots, sweeter and greater than they that are sown of seeds gathered from those of the garden.

The Time

            They flower in July and August, and seed the second year after they be sown.

The Names.

            The herbarists of our time do call the garden Parsnips Pastinaca, and therefore we have surnamed it Latifolia, or broad-leaved, that it may differ from the other garden Parsnip with narrow leaves, which is truly and properly called Staphylinus, that is, the garden Carrot. Some physicians doubting, and not knowing to what herb of the ancients it should be referred, have feigned the wild kind hereof to be Panaci species, or a kind of All-Heal: divers have named it Baucia; others, Branca leonina, but if you diligently mark and confer it with Elaphoboscum of Dioscorides, you shall hardly find any difference at all: but the plant called at Montpellier Pabulum cervinum: in English, Hart's Fodder, supposed there to be the true Elaphoboscum, differeth much from the true notes thereof. Now Baucia, as Jacobus Manlius reporteth in Luminari maiore, is Dioscorides', and the old writers' Pastinaca, that is to say, Tenuifolia, or Carrot: but the old writers, and especially Dioscorides have called this wild Parsnip by the name of Elaphoboscum and we do call them Parsnips and Mypes.

The Temperature.

            The Parsnip root is moderately hot, and more dry than moist.

The Virtues.

            A. The Parsnips nourish more than do the Turnips or the Carrots, and the nourishment is somewhat thicker, but not faulty nor bad; notwithstanding they be somewhat windy: they pass through the body neither slowly nor speedily: they neither bind nor loose the belly: they provoke urine, and lust of the body: they be good for the stomach, kidneys, bladder, and lungs.

            B. There is a good and pleasant food or bread made of the roots of Parsnips, as my friend Mr Plat hath set forth in his book of experiments, which I have made no trial of; nor mean to do.

            C. The seed is hotter and drier even unto the second degree, it moveth urine, and consumeth wind.

            D. It is reported, saith Dioscorides, that deer are preserved from bitings of serpents, by eating of the herb Elaphoboscum, or Wild Parsnip, whereupon the seed is given with wine against the bitings and stingings of Serpents.

Prev Next

Back to Introduction