Three species of biennials belong to this European genus (Petroselinium crispum) is the most widely cultivated herb in Europe, usually grown as an annual year-round by sowing at intervals from early spring to early autumn. It became popular in Roman times; a curly variant was first mentioned in CE42 and rapidly gained favor for its appearance. Curly parsleys are neat, attractive plants that ma be grown as edging or in containers. Plain or flat-leafed parsleys have a stronger flaver than curly-leafed cultivars; leaves of var. tuberosum are inferior ro flavoring purposes. Parsley is rich in iron and vitamins A, C, and E; it also contains apigenin, a flavonoid that reduces allergic responses and acts as an anti-oxidant. The composition of volatile oils differs between the leaves and seeds. Although quite safe in the amounts given in recipes, parsley is toxic in excess, especially in the form of essential oil. Hamburg parsley has been grown for its edible roots since the 16th century. As the name suggests, it is most popular in Germany, where there are a large number of cultivars that produce larger, better-quality roots.

Clump-forming biennial with a white taproot and bright green, triangular pinnate leaves, divided into ovate, toothed segments, to 3cm (1¼in) long, which have variably curled margins. Tiny yellow-green flowers are produced in flat-topped umbels, to 4cm (1½in) across, in summer, followed by tiny ribbed, ovoid fruits.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Common Parsley, Rock Parsley, Wild Parsley
Botanical Name:
Petroselinium crispum
Native Location:
SE Europe and W Asia.
Rich, well-drained soil, neutral to alkaline soil in sun or partial shade. Plants may be damaged by leaf spots, virus disease, and larvae of carrot flies and celery flies. Winter cromps may need protection in frost-prone areas.
By seed sown from spring to late summer. Parsley seed takes 3-6 weeks to germinate but will do so sooner if seeds are soaked overnight in warm water.
Leaves are picked before flowering and used fresh, frozen, juiced, or dried. Roots are lifted in late autumn of first year, or spring of second year, and dried for decoctions and liquid extracts. Seeds are collected when ripe and dried for infusions and liquid extracts. Oil is distilled from leaves and seeds.
30-80cm (12-32in)
30-45cm (12-18in)
Has strong stems and tightly curled leaves.
Height: 20-30cm (8-12in)
Is compact and dwarf. Ideal for containers.
Height 20cm (8in)
Width: 30cm (12in)
Var. neopolitanum
syn. Italian
(French/Italian Parsley)

Has large, dark green leaves with flat segments, and a stronger flavor. Hardier and more weather-resistant.
Height: 90cm (36in)
Width: 60cm (24in)
Var. tuberosum
syn. (Hamburg parsley, turnip-rooted parsley)

Has parsnip-like roots, and non-curly foliage with a parsley-celery flavor.
Height: 35cm (14in)
Width: 30cm (12in)
Ancient Greek athletes wore victory garlands made of parsley, a trend started by the greatest of competitors, Hercules, who believed, as did his fellow citizens, that the herb increased virility, strength, and stamina. Yet the same Greeks regarded parsley as emblematic of dying and death. They literally sprinkled the dead (and their tombs) with the sweetly pungent herb—a practice now believed more practical than spiritual: The chlorophyll in parsley masks unpleasant odors. Not surprisingly, the ancient Greeks also believed parsley was under the protection of the goddess Persephone who, together with Pluto, ruled Hades, the land of the dead. The early Christians neatly transposed this bit of "Pagan" fiction by dedicating parsley to St. Peter—the guardian of the gates of Heaven.
Parts Used:
Leaves, roots, seeds, oil.
A bitter, aromatic, diuretic herb that relaxes spasms, reduces inflammation, and clears toxins. It stimulates the digestion and uterus.
VI The Lovers
Vitamin Content:
Vitamin A, Thiamin
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for menstrual complaints, edema, cystitis, prostatitis, kidney stones, indigestion, colic, anorexia, anemia, arthritis, and rheumatism (roots, seeds).
Parsley is a wonderfully nutritious herb, rich in vitamins A and C, many of the B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and chlorophyll. Herbalists prescribe parsley as a digestive aid, diuretic, and mild laxative. It also has expectorant, antiseptic, and antispasmodic properties, and is thus recommended for colds, coughs, and asthma; common bladder problems; cramping pain; and the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Parsley is also a superlative breath freshener (thanks to its chlorophyll content).
Parsley is available as fresh and dried herb and in teas. To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried leaves or roots and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink up to 3 cups a day. Raw green leaves may be eaten as a breath freshener; leaves and stems can be added to salads and vegetable dishes; roots may be chopped and cooked in soups and stews.
Culinary Uses:
Leaves are used as garnish and to flavor sauces, butter, dressings, stuffings, and savory dishes. An essential ingredient of salsa verde (Mexico), tabouleh (Middle East), and chimichurri (Argentina); also of sautéed herb and garlic garnishes persillade (France) and gremolata (Italy).
Economic Uses:
Oil is used in commercial food flavoring and perfumes for men. Juice is added to blended vegetable juices.
Parsley has a history of use as an emenagogue—that is, and herb that brings on menstruation. Avoid parsley, therefore, during pregnancy or if you are trying to conceive. Do not use parsley if you have a kidney ailment or inflammation of the kidneys. If you are being treated with diuretics for high blood pressure, or you have any heart problems, check with your practitioner before using parsley medicinally.

Do not harvest parsley in the wild unless you are and experienced herbalist or botanist; it resembles several poisonous plants.
Excess causes abortion, liver and kidney damage, nerve inflammation, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Contraindicated in pregnancy and kidney disease (seeds).
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 310
The Herbal Tarot by Michael Tierra, Herbalist and Candis Cantin, Artist Copyright©1988 U.S. Games Systems Inc. Card VI
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp. 36-37