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(parsnip), a genus of plants of the family Umbelliferae. The plants are biennial or perennial herbs with pinnate leaves. The flowers are in compound umbels and are yellow or orange. The fruit has two seeds.
There are 15 species of parsnip in Europe and Asia. The USSR has five wild species (primarily in the Caucasus) and one species under cultivation. The most common wild species is P. silvestris, a biennial with a spindle-shaped root; it grows in pastures, along roads, and in gardens (as a weed). Its strongly dissected leaves are pinnatipartite and bright green. The cultivated parsnip (P. sativa) is a biennial. The root is fleshy, yellowish white, smooth, and elongate-rounded or elongate-conical. The small bisexual flowers are composed of five yellow concave petals. The fruit is two-seeded, oval, and light or dark brown.
Parsnips are cross-pollinating plants that tolerate cold and frost well. They grow well in fertile soils with medium tenacity and in cultivated marshy soils. The roots contain 17.5–18.7 percent dry substances and 8.6–10.5 percent sugars; they also contain up to 40 mg of vitamin C. The roots are stewed (with butter and sugar) or are used to flavor soup or meat. They are also used by the vegetable-canning industry.
In the USSR, parsnip is raised in regions with a canning industry. The best-known varieties are Kruglyi, Luchshii iz vsekh, and Student. Soil preparation, fertilization, and maintenance are the same as for carrots. In southern regions the seed is sown in early spring in single or double rows spaced 45 cm apart; sometimes the seed is sown according to a pattern of rows alternately spaced 50 cm and 20 cm apart. The rate of sowing is 5–6 kg per hectare (ha). The plants are thinned out until they are 5–6 cm apart. The yield of roots is 400–700 quintals per ha.
O. A. FILIPPOVA