Which Type of Parsnip Should I Plant?

There are hundreds of varieties of parsnips with each having its own distinct characteristics.  Some are more productive than others making it ideal for commercial planting.  Some have a strong flavor while some are mild-tasting.

For local home gardening, there are quite a lot of good varieties to choose from.  They are mostly available in seed catalogues and in local gardening outlets.

Some of the best varieties for home gardening include:

Harris Model. This type of parsnip can grow as long as 15 inches with smooth white skin and finely-grained flesh.  It is the most common type of strain.  Popular to both home gardeners and even market growers, it doesn’t have side roots. It can be harvested after 130 days.

All American. This parsnip strain can be harvested earlier than the typical variety – just 95 days compared to the others which is 125 or more days.  The All American variety has a tender texture, with a sweet, nutty taste that is best dug in the fall.  It is tolerant to diseases and stores very well, too.


Lancer. One of the best advantages of growing this cultivar is its extreme resistance to Canker, a disease that normally plagues parsnips.  It is very productive so it’s very ideal for market growing.  With smooth skin that is uniformly-colored, it has a very delicate flavor.

Cobham Marrow. Cobham Marrow produces roots that are about eight inches long and is normally sweeter than most parsnip strains.  This is the variety most people use as a dessert – usually just glazed with brown sugar.  It germinates easily and can grow even in very heavy soils.  It can be harvested 120 days after being sown.

Student. Similar to the cultivar Hollow Crown, Student is a more superior strain precisely because of its taste.  It has a mellow flavor and quite delicious compared to other strains.  However, this parsnip cultivar is not widely available so seeds are a little difficult to find.