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VARIETIES OF PARSNIP SEEDS
There are relatively few parsnip varieties commonly available in the UK, our descriptions below list many of them.
One attribute to consider carefully is the length of the root. The longer varieties will not do well on heavier clay soil, here a shorter snub nosed type does best. Another key quality you may require is a particular resistance to disease. Canker and carrot fly seem to be the most common problems.
It's no surprise that Tozer Seeds were the first to introduce an F1 parsnip in 1982. Called Gladiator, this variety is still the one that sets the standards today. It did however start the development process which led on to more F1 varieties such as Javelin, Albion and Countess.
An excellent F1 variety for the average UK gardener. The roots are broad at the top and don't taper so much as those which are good for exhibition. This makes it easier to get more of the parsnip up without breaking at harvest time.
Excellent sweet taste, unusually white colour, there is very little to criticise about this variety. High resistance to canker, one of the best as far as disease resistance is concerned. The germination rates are in the low 90% range according to recent tests. This is a relatively new variety, first awarded an RHS Award of garden Merit in 2009, it was reconfirmed in 2013.
We can't find anyone who stocks this variety any more and that's a shame. The highest rating of all for canker resistance and excellent for heavier soils. If you can find a stockist then let us know by leaving a comment at the end of this page.
One of the most recent F1 parsnip varieties, this rivals Gladiator for the showbench but at the same time is excellent for the every day gardener. Very white skin, excellent taste and long roots. Grows very quickly and has top quality disease resistance.
This is an F1 variety which we recommend if your soil is light and rich, it's an excellent choice for the show bench. The top of the root is broad and it quickly slims down to become extra long and thin. It has good canker resistance. The taste is good but not excellent, it lacks the sweetness of some others. Awarded and RHS AGM in 2001 this was reconfirmed in 2013.
HOLLOW CROWN PARSNIP
These are a long rooted variety, normally in the range 25cm to 40cm (12in to 16in) so they are best suited to lighter soils which have also been well dug. The name "Hollow Crown" sounds like a rather nasty disease but in fact refers to the .... Click here for our full review of Hollow Crown
Another variety which dates back to the early 1800s, many parsnip "experts" agree that this variety has the best taste of all. The taste is creamy and the texture smooth. It's shorter than many varieties which makes it a good choice for heavier clay soils. It has good resistance to canker. This variety is open pollinated meaning that seed can be saved although like all parsnip seeds it should be sown as soon after harvest as possible.
This is not a common variety in garden centres but is widely available online.
TENDER AND TRUE PARSNIP
This is an open pollinated variety where seeds will come true to type. It was first introduced in 1897 and up to 2009 was the proud owner of an RHS AGM. However the award was then withdrawn by the RHS with the comment:
"Been superseded. Sells because of its name, but now outclassed".Some seed merchants still show the AGM logo against this variety but, trust us, it no longer has an AGM! The advantages of Tender and True are that, in ideal conditions, it does produce a handsome root which is often used for showing at shows. The core is minimal so it is particularly tender. It is also an open-pollinated variety so saved seeds will come true to type. If you do want to grow this variety it is available as seed in many garden centres and widely available online.
The disadvantages are that in less than ideal conditions, those which exist in many gardens, it does not grow as well as many other varieties. It is definitely not suited to heavy soils.
This is an open pollinated variety where seeds will come true to type. It's not a variety we would recommend given the other choices available. It does however do better than many where the soil is heavy or shallow.