All about the prickly parsnip, a wild Mediterranean plant

A hardy and nutritious plant that can offer numerous human health benefits

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By Alex

prickly parnsip

The prickly parsnip is a perennial spiny plant native to western Mediterranean sandy coasts, where it is sometimes referred to as “sea carrot” in local languages. The scientific name is Echinophora Spinosa and, as the name suggests, is a species of Echinophora.

Let’s find out more about it together.

Origin of the prickly parsnip

It is a herbaceous plant that grows wild along rocky and sandy coastlines, especially in coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean. The video you will see below was taken in Sardinia, for example.


The prickly parsnip looks similar to a wild carrot, but has larger, spiny leaves and white or greenish flowers. It can reach a height of almost one meter and has an upright habit. The leaves are divided into spiny segments, oval or elliptical in shape, and are green-gray in color.

It is a plant known for its great resistance to harsh environmental conditions, such as brackish wind and drought, thanks to its strong and deep roots, which enable it to absorb moisture from the soil even in adverse weather conditions.

Beneficial properties of prickly parsnip

But the prickly parsnip is not only a hardy plant; it is also very nutritious. In fact, the root of this plant is rich in vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene.

In addition, this plant has been the subject of numerous scientific studies that have highlighted its beneficial properties for human health. For example, studies have shown that regular consumption of prickly parsnip can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

How can one use prickly parsnip in cooking?

But how can prickly parsnip be used in cooking? The root of this plant is usually eaten raw, cut into julienne or grated, and is a common ingredient in salads and vegetable dishes.

It can also be steamed, boiled, or sautéed as a side dish or as an ingredient in soups and stews.

prickly parsnip
Sunrise in a Spanish beach, with prickly parsnip in the foreground.

Possible side effects

As with any other natural product, it is important to pay attention to possible contraindications and interactions with drugs or other substances.

In particular, not much information exists on the safety of using prickly parsnip during pregnancy and lactation, so it is advisable to avoid using it in these cases. In addition, it may interact with some medications, such as anticoagulants, so it is advisable to avoid using it if you are already taking such medication.

Before using prickly parsnip or any other natural product, it is always advisable to consult a physician or herbalist expert to make sure there are no specific contraindications for your health situation or any medications you are taking.

Summarizing, prickly parsnip is a hardy and nutritious plant that offers numerous human health benefits. If you want to experience new flavors and benefits for your body, try to include it in your diet after medical consultation.

Where can I buy it

You can find it in stores specializing in herbs and spices in Europe.

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