Parsnep, or Parsnip, Pasti-?iaca, L. a genus of plants, com-prising three speciestof which only the sativa, or Common Wild Parsnip, is indigenous. It grows on the borders of ploughed fields, in calcareous land, and flowers in the month of June or July.- As no cattle will touch this weed, it ought to be carefully eradicated.
In a cultivated state, this plant is known under the name of the Garden Parsnip; which requires a rich deep loam, though it will also thrive in sandy soils: on the contrary, wet and stiff land is very unfavourable to its growth.
Parsnips are propagated by seed, which should be sown in the months of February or March; and likewise in autumn, immediately after the seed is ripe; as otherwise the young plants will be over-run with weeds. If the seed be broad-cast, the plants must be thinned to the distance of 10 inches, or one foot, asunder : in case it be drilled, the rows ought to be 18 inches apart; the roots being also left at the distance of 10 inches from each other; horse-hoed twice ; and earthed up after the second operation, but not so as to cover the leaves.—They are very hardy ; and, if allowed to remain in the ground, are not injured by the severest frost.
Parsnips are of great value both for feeding cattle, and likewise for culinary- purposes. They are reputed to be equal, if not superior, to carrots, for pigs, which eat them with avidity, and fatten speedily, while their flesh becomes much whiter. If washed clean, and sliced among bran, horses eagerly devour the parsnip-roots, and thrive well; nor are they easily heated, or liable to the disorders that often attack these useful animals, when fed with corn.
Parsnips fatten sheep and oxen in a very short time.; and the assertion of the Jersey Society of Agriculture, that these roots " will fatten a lean hast in three months" has been verified by the experience of the Rev. Dr. DE Salis, on whom the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. in I799, conferred their silver medal, for the cultivation of those excellent roots, for the above-stated purpose.—Hence they are particularly valuable as a winter food. The beef of cattle fattened on them, together with hay, is said to excel that produced from the best pastures alone :- the milk of cows thus fed, is not only richer, but yields butter of a fine saffron-colour, which is equal to that obtained from them, when feeding on the most luxuriant grasses.
If parsnips are to be housed, they ought to be taken up, when the leaves begin to decay; and these should be cut off three or four days before they are stored. It is not, however, advisable to dig them out early in the morning', before the dew is dissipated; as the leaves then contain a scalding fluid, and excite blisters, which continue troublesome for several days.
Considered as human food, parsnips are preferable to carrots; being exceedingly nourishing, and less flatulent than the latter. In the North of Ireland, the former are brewed with hops; and, when fermented with yeast, afford an agreeable beverage : they may also be preserved in sand for culinary use ; and, if reduced to a dry state, by cutting them in oblong slices, which ought to be suspended on strings, either in a warm room, or the open air, such roots will remain sound for any period of time. Hence, they promise to be of considerable service on long voyages ; for, by soaking them in warm wa ter for the space of one hour, previously to the process of boiling, thy will become as tender, and will taste equally sweet, as if they had been newly brought from the garden.—There is, however, a precaution which deserves to be stated ; namely, that parsnips should never be dug up in the spring; because, when the roots at that season are growing upwards for producing seed, their juices acquire a poisonous quality; and instances have occurred, in which the internal use of them has been productive of fatal effects on the human constitution, such as furious madness : this remarkable phenomenon in vegetable nature, we relate on the authority of M. Bechstein. The seeds of parsnips are slightly aromatic, and contain an essential oil, which, according to Dr. Withering, " will often cure intermittent levers."
Parsnep. - This fibrous root possessing a peculiar sweetness, Prof. Hermbstaedt was induced to make various experiments, with the view of extracting sugar. He caused a parcel of such roots, weighing '24lbs. to be pounded in a stone mortar, with the addition of a little cold water ; after which the juice was expressed, the residuum washed in pure water, and likewise submitted to the action of a press: the result was a turbid, sweet liquor. After standing in a cool place for a few days, till it became clear, and evaporating it over a moderate fire, Prof. H. obtained 5 1/2 lbs. of an agreeable syrup.