This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Pastinaca: an umbelliferous plant, with naked umbels, yellow flowers, and flat seeds surrounded with a leafy margin: the leaves arc oblong, and stand in pairs on a middle rib, without pedicles.
1. Pastinaca: Pastinaca latifolia sativa C. B. Pastinaca sativa Linn. Garden parfnep: with pale-coloured smooth indented leaves, and a large fleshy root.
2. Elaphoboscum: Pastinaca silvestris lati-folia C. B. Bancia & branca leonina quibufdam. Wild parfnep: with dark green rough indented leaves and slender woody roots; common about the sides of fields; flowering, as the other, in June and July, and ripening its seeds in September. The garden sort is supposed to be only a variety of this, and to owe its differences to culture.
The roots of the garden parfnep, in taste considerably sweetish, are accounted a very nutritious aliment: they yield with rectified spirit a very sweet extract, and in distillation with water a small portion of essential oil possessing the specific flavour of the roots. It is said that by standing in the ground for some years, it contracts pernicious qualities, so as to occasion disorders of the senses (a).
The seeds of the garden sort are somewhat aromatic; those of the wild a little more so; of considerable smell, but no great pungency or warmth. By infusion, they impregnate water moderately with their smell, but communicate very little taste: in distillation they give over a small quantity of a pale yellowish essential oil, in taste moderately pungent, and smelling strongly of the seeds: five pounds of the seeds of the garden parfnep yielded little more than a dram. Rectified spirit rakes up by digestion the whole of their active matter, and carries off little in the infpiffation of the tincture: the extracts of both sorts have a moderate warmth and bitterishness, differing in degree as the seeds themselves. These seeds have been commended as diuretics, similar to those of daucus, but weaker, which, in their sensible qualities, they apparently are: Haller reports, that those of the wild species, made into pills, with extract of liquorice, were much used by Boerhaave against nephritic complaints and ulcerations of the bladder.
3. Panax: Panax heracleum Morifon. Panax pastinacae folio C. B. Sphondylio vel potius pasti-nacte germanicae affinis panax vel pseudocostus flore luteo J. B. Laserpitium Chironium Linn, Her-cules's allheal or wound wort: with uncut leaves, somewhat heart-shaped, but having one of the sides lower than the other: the middle ribs, bearing the several sets of leaves, stand in pairs along a larger rib. It is a native of the warmer climates, and bears the colds of our own.
(a) Ray, Historia plantarum, i. 420. Dan. Hoffman, Acta acad. caesar. nat. curio/or. vol. vi. anno 1742. obf. 128. p. 426.
Both the seeds and the roots of this species are considerably warmer than those of the two preceding. The roots and stalks have a strong smell and taste resembling those of opopanax; and Boerhaave relates, that on wounding the plant in summer, he obtained a yellow juice, which, being infpiffated a little in the fun, agreed perfectly, in both respects, with that exotic gummy-resin.