Herb: Water Parsnip

Latin name: Sium suave

Synonyms: Sium cicutifolium

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Water Parsnip:

An infusion of the crushed root has been used as a poultice to bring relief from the pain of a broken limb. A decoction of the roots has been used by women in the treatment of epilepsy.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Meadows, wet thickets, muddy banks etc. Swamps and wet areas in Texas.

Edible parts of Water Parsnip:

Root - raw or cooked. Crisp and delicious, it has an agreeable nutty flavour. The root is considered to be edible in the spring and the autumn but it so closely resembles some very poisonous plants that it should be considered unsafe to eat. The aromatic leaves are used as a relish. Some caution is advised - see the notes above on toxicity.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow late winter to early spring in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer if they are large enough. Otherwise, grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in the following spring. Division in early spring just before new growth begins. Use the side roots. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Cultivation of Water Parsnip:

Meadows, wet thickets, muddy banks etc. Swamps and wet areas in Texas.

Known hazards of Sium suave:

The stems and leaves of this plant are toxic and will kill livestock. There is no conclusive proof of this, based on native North American Indian usage it is likely that the roots and stems are edible, though the flowering tops might be poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.