Parsnip

(Pastinaca sativa)

If you want a parsnip good and sweet,

Sow it when you sow the wheat. (Leather).

The leaves were regarded as poisonous once (Graves), and the opinion in America was that it was poisonous when growing wild (Bergen. 1899). It seems to have been used in an English formula for witches' flying ointment. It is given as the fat of a newly born infant, eleoseline (which is wild celery), skiwet (identified as wild parsnip), and soot (Graves).

Wild parsnip was used in Anglo-Saxon medicine for a difficult labour. It was, too, recommended as an emmenagogue (M L Cameron). Interestingly, native Americans, for example, the Pillager Ojibwe, used a minute quantity of the root mixed with four other kinds of root to make a medicinal tea for female troubles (H H Smith. 1945). In the 18th century, Wesley recommended it for "a cancer ... stamp the Flowers, Leaves and Stalkes of wild Parsnips, and apply them as a plaister, changing it every twelve hours. It usually cures on a few days". Cancer here is probably canker. At about the same time, Sir John Hill was declaring that a strong decoction "opens all obstructions. It is good against the gravel and the jaundice, and will bring down the menses"; the last part harks straight back to Anglo-Saxon medicine.

Parthenium hysterophorus > WHITE BROOMWEED

Passiflora caerulea > BLUE PASSION FLOWER

Pastinaca sativa > PARSNIP

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