I hadn’t planned to talk about this further except by chance on a recent walk I noticed a most beautiful caterpillar perched on a Wild Parsnip plant happily dining on its leaves and flowers. So this curious find begged a little research. The words ‘caterpillar’ and ‘wild parsnip’ were googled to find that this was the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail. This butterfly is sometimes referred to as the Parsnip butterfly. The eggs from this beautiful butterfly are routinely laid on plants from the carrot family; the parsnip is from this family of plants.
It seems very evident that each living thing has a purpose, many of which we do not know. Although this plant can be harmful to us in certain circumstances it can also benefit us. Not only can it serve as home and dinner to the beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly through parts of it’s life cycle it can also feed us with its tap root during the fall of it’s first year of growth. Now before you go out and dig up some tap roots of this plant please do some research to insure you know how to properly identify this plant. The late fall of the 1st year growth plant is what you want to look for. It grows a rosetta clump of leaves from the top of the root. You will find these among the mature flowering plants which you do not want as the tap root of the flowering plant is too mature and woody to eat.
The wonderful discovery of this lovely caterpillar led to the discovery of a free food source and back to the heart felt words of Chief Seattle noted below.
“The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother. If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers. Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
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