I May Have Grown & Eaten a Parsnip

by Daisy


It’s also possible I grew and ate something else, in which case it has been great knowing all of you.

You may ask how I could do such a thing? How could I grow something and not know what it is AND how could I eat something without knowing what it was?

The answer to that, besides, talent, lies in the highly scientific and organized way I garden; I toss pinches of this and sprinkle bits of that. I stomp and water and hope and forget and wonder. I let plants go to seed and relocate themselves via pappus or epizoochory (the will of the wind or the wool).

So it was without much surprise that when I dug up a plant I thought was valerian, it turned out much different than valerian root, which is sort of stringy and octopus-like. This was one big, honking root. Also, unlike valerian which smells like stinky socks, it smelled nice and spicy.

I’m not from parsnip country. We don’t do parsnips down here, and although I’ve eaten a few here and there over the years, I’m not very familiar with them.

I don’t have a photo of the foliage because I tossed it, but I did an image search and to the best of my recollection, what I grew looked like the photos of parsnip leaves.

So did I grow and eat a parsnip? Please say I et a parsnip.


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Bledsoe November 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

It looks like a very healthy parsnip to me.

Cinnamon Vogue November 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Daisy that was funny. Didn’t your mother tell you not to go eating them Parsnip? :-). Since we don’t have the exact photo of what you threw away, we can’t really tell. Best to make sure your health plan is fully paid up. Couldn’t pass that up. 🙂

I believe the general rule is that if anything smells nice and spicy you can eat it. But then again I am not an expert.

Trace Willans November 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Does it smell like a parsnip? Coz it sure looks more like a celeriac to me.

Claire November 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Umm, I’m not exactly sure what a raw, out-of-the-ground parsnip looks like (I’ve only bought them at the grocery store), but what did it smell like when you cut into it? The one & only parsnip I’ve ever used smelled like Dr. Pepper (at least it did to me).

John Amrhein November 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I’ve only grown parsnip once and mine weren’t quite that thick at the top – but otherwise it looks like one!

Erica November 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm

If you’re still around to post about it, I say you’re good! It’s not like I’ve never eaten unidentified berries – my train was coming; it’s not like I had lots of time to go look them up and I was NOT going to miss out on some fine berries just because I didn’t know what they were.

Barbara Dyjak November 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

You ‘guys’ are much braver than I! I’ll only eat what I know I planted: the problem is that I sometimes forget what I plant & where. If the sniff test fails me, I view the stranger as an enemy, possible poisoner. Not very adventurous, I know. Y’all put me to shame.

Teresa November 5, 2013 at 6:01 am

I use parsnip often in soups and stews, if you chop it fine you barely notice.
It looks like a parsnip to me, someone else said celeric but those are generally rounder I think.

I understand why you did that, rarely does what I plant stay where I planted it and often I get something completly different than excpected, try it and hope I am ok:)


Blythe Barbo November 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

Did it scream & yell when you yanked it out of the ground? It might have been a Mandrake Root! LOL.

My garden is always a scavenger hunt where I let the plants “be free.” (Think – Garden Gone Wild). Most things do better if I don’t purposefully plant them. It’s kind of a polyculture thing, and I figure discovery is half the fun. I also eat a lot of “weeds.” So far, so good.

Shawn M November 5, 2013 at 8:36 am

It looks like celeriac. Parsnips look more like white carrots. At least it looks edible. I hope.

Daisy November 5, 2013 at 9:26 am

Blythe et al.–It did not scream; HOWEVER, there was a toad residing underground which I disturbed when I began to dig so there was at least a yelp on my part.
I should disclose to Trace and Shawn that I have planted parsnips at some point, but no celeriac, and while that doesn’t completely rule out celeriac, it does tip the scale in favor of parsnip. Blythe, Erica, and Teresa, good to know I’m not the only “adventurous” gardener. CLAIRE! It DID smell like Dr. Pepper, although if you hadn’t said that it never would have occurred to me! John and Nancy, reassured by your confirmation, and CV, Mama never said nothing about parsnip and look where it’s gotten me! Barbara, it’s been 24 hours and so far so good.

AuntiePatricia November 5, 2013 at 10:12 am

hmm… my mom was english, so i was raised on parsnips. it KINDA looks like a parsnip… a LOT… but the top makes me think celery. see how the larger thingies are on the top? not like teeny parsley stalks, but like mighty celery stalks. however, the celeriac i’ve seen has been far more bulbous than this.

ivory, if you send me a taste, i will be more certain. parsnip tastes sweet and good. i would think celeriac tastes more like celery, which is also good, but different. if it tastes like food, i eat it, no matter what they call it. if something is poisonous, it usually tastes not good… extremely bitter or extremely acidic; your body doesn’t WANT to eat it.

BrownThumbMama November 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

Looks like a parsnip to me! Although a mighty honkin’ big one. Was it good? When I let them grow that big, they are really woody inside.

Sarah November 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I’d agree that it looks like a big honkin’ parsnip, which would probably explain the huge top. I can see why it looks like celeriac though, but I’d agree that it’s not quite the right shape for that. If it was sweet, then I’m sure it was parsnip!

Holly November 6, 2013 at 5:20 am

I guess if you’ve already eaten it you’re ok, since if it were poison hemlock you’d know by now! But just reading about it the Hemlock root looks the same as parsnip, and the scent is compared to parsnip! However, kind of unlikely it would be in your garden randomly. Best of luck!

Lisa Lynn November 6, 2013 at 7:04 am

Definitely a parsnip…I’ve been growing them for years and love them in winter soups and stews. In cold areas you can actually put straw over a bed of parsnip and just dig them as you need them. Any left in the ground in spring will start growing and producing seed for you to plant the following year.

Happy parsnipping 🙂

leisa November 6, 2013 at 8:23 am

not a good policy to eat things you’re not sure of- not everything that looks edible is.

Sheri November 6, 2013 at 10:27 am

WOW! I thought I was the only one that gardens like that … alot! I have more free-seeding coming through to fruition that actual planting. At this time of year I have tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, many types of basil, parsley, potatoes…. I am digging up and putting in pots for the hoophouse.

Mark November 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Parsnips will usually develop a “shoulder” at the top of the root, similar to a carrot. If you imagine the leaf base being 1/3 the width of the root, then that is what I mean by shoulder… BUT, if outer leaves are regularly removed or damaged, then the crown will grow upwards as more stems are initiated to replace them, creating that very celeriac like crown at the top. Also, if it is a self seeded plant, there is the possibility of variation from the standard parsnip through cross-pollination. To me, it is not white enough to be a parsnip, but maybe it’s a darker variety or perhaps you have better soil than I (everyone has better soil than my sand 🙁 ).

Any plant you have not purposely planted is a risk as far as consumption is concerned, but if you make reasonable efforts to identify and rule out likely dangerous plants, and then eat small samples to start with and allow time to assess reaction, then it can be a very fun and exciting way to experience your food.

Jo November 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm

It’s a parsnip. Celeriac is rounder. I’ve seen parsnips and carrots that, if left too long in the ground, develop a tougher skin and little side roots like that. This is a parsnip for sure.

Blanca Gonzalez November 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm

If you ate it and you’re ok, good for your trial. It doesn’t look a celeriac to me, I’ve grown them so it must be partsnip.

If you ate it and you’re ok, good for your trial. It doesn’t look like celeriac to me, I’ve grown them so it must be partsnip.

Denise Spencer November 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm
Katie @ Horrific Knits November 7, 2013 at 9:54 am

Looks like a parsnip. And very vaguely like horseradish. But probably a parsnip.

AuntiePatricia November 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I like the salsify idea… horseradish would be noticed in a flash!!! Tastebuds, you know. Ivory, what did it taste like? Sweet? – Parsnip… Like asparagus? – Salsify

Daisy November 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm

AuntiePatricia–Well, definitely not horseradish. I have some of that and I know what it looks like (and where it is) not to mention the taste difference. Salsify I’ve never planted, but from what I’ve heard described, parsnip is the closest. It was rather chewy; I think I let it get too big. Not asparagus-like, definitely, although if salsify tastes like asparagus I want some.

RachelleBrown January 7, 2014 at 5:07 am

It looks like one. I tried baking a parsnip with some oregano, parsley and butter and I really love the taste.

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