Carew, H. John Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
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A hardy biennial, Pastinaca sativa, of Mediterranean origin belonging to the plant order Apiales (Umbellales). The parsnip (see illustration) is grown for its edible thickened taproot and is used primarily as a cooked vegetable. Propagation is by seed, and cultural practices are similar to those used for carrots, except that a longer growing season is required. Parsnip seed retains its viability only 1–2 years. Harvesting begins in late fall or early winter, usually 100–125 days after planting. Exposure of mature roots to low temperatures (but not necessarily freezing temperatures) improves the quality of the root by favoring the conversion of starch to sugar. See also: Apiales; Carrot; Root (botany)
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