Parsley may take a long time to germinate, but it repays you for the wait with beauty, nutrients, and flavor. ~Edward C. Smith
Parsley has always been a favorite herb of mine for its wonderful taste as a sharp accent in many dishes. And recently I found it was a great for wildlife. It grows all summer and well into fall, in my garden, with its bright green leaves.
In my research I recently discovered that parsley is well loved throughout the world, and has the distinction of the world’s most popular and most widely cultivated herb.
Parsley is a one of the most nutritious and healing foods too. I was introduced to it by my acupuncturist who had me adding it to a green smoothie for heart health and cancer prevention. But I think parsley is very under-appreciated as many see it only as a garnish or an herb in some dishes.
So I thought I would profile this great herb for you as I join in with [email protected]Elephant’s Eye on False Bay for her meme, Dozen for Diana.
Parsley’s Latin name is Petroselinum crispum. It is part of the Apiaceae Family (or Umbelliferae Family), commonly known as the carrot or parsley family which is characterized by mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems.
Parsley’s name comes from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” which makes sense as parsley is related to celery.
In the sixteenth century, parsley was known as A. hortense, but in 1764 Linnaeus named it A. petroselinum.
Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, and naturalized in other parts of Europe.
There are 2 commonly used varieties of parsley, flat-leafed/Italian and curly leafed. The Italian variety is said to be a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety, and is easier to cultivate as it is not so fussy. The curly leaf parsley is preferred for its more decorative use a garnish. I personally prefer to grow and eat the Italian variety.
Parsley is a biennial in temperate climates, and acts like an annual in subtropical and tropical areas. It will live through the winter here in the US, but as it comes back in year 2 it will flower, set seed and the leaves will be tougher and bitter.
Parsley grows best in moist, well drained soil, and full sun to part shade. I find it does best in part shade which is one of its better qualities as many herbs require full sun. Make sure to keep the plant moist even through the dry parts of summer. As summer was wet this year, I did not have to water it often as in other years. It will benefit from fertilizing too. I used seaweed fertilizer this year and found it worked wonders in the garden and with the parsley.
If your plants become a bit burnt or coarse in the summer, they say to cut off all the leaves and water well. This will encourage the plant to put out a new growth of fine leaves.
If you grow parsley from seed, like I do, be warned that germination is slow, taking four to six weeks so be patient. Once it begins to sprout, you will want to thin it out although I have grown whole rows tightly packed that looked like a mini hedge row.
For a great supply of parsley, they say you should sow 2-3 times a year; I sow in May and usually in early August. But this year with the cold weather, I ended up sowing not until June so my plants are just now becoming quite full and I will harvest soon. I also dig up at least one plant to bring indoors all winter.
Parsley has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, and before it was consumed as a food, it was used medicinally.
The ancient Greeks held parsley to be very sacred. It was used to adorn the victors of athletic competition, and the tombs of their dead. The herb is said to have been dedicated to Persephone and to funeral rites by the Greeks. Greek gardens were often bordered with parsley.
The practice of using parsley as a garnish can be traced back to the ancient Romans.
It is thought that parsley began to be consumed as a seasoning in Europe during the Middle Ages, and some credit Charlemagne with making its use popular since he had it growing in his gardens.
There is an old superstition against transplanting parsley plants.
It is said there was an ancient preference for the curly type of parsley because people were reluctant to eat the flat leaf variety as it resembled fool’s parsley, a poisonous weed.
Parsley is an herb widely used as a garnish, condiment, food, and flavoring.
Parsley is used in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking.
In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh chopped parsley sprinkled on top: tabbouleh, potatoes, rice, fish, meats and stews (like goulash or chicken paprikash).
Parsley is a source of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin A. The leaf, seed, and root are used to make medicine.
Parsley is used for urinary tract and intestinal issues, infections, indigestion, diabetes, cough, asthma, arthritis and high blood pressure. It is also critical for good heart health.
The folic acid in parsley is an essential nutrient for cancer-prevention in two areas of the body; the colon and the cervix.
Parsley is also used as a breath freshener, and to help stimulate the appetite and improve digestion.
It is said parsley should not be consumed in excess by pregnant women.
Some people apply parsley directly to the skin for help repair cracked or chapped skin, bruises, tumors and insect bites.
Parsley attracts wildlife. Swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae. See their black and green striped caterpillars in the picture here on some of my parsley last year. They will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Bees and other nectar-loving insects love the parsley flowers. Finches and sparrows feed on the seeds. I have never let my parsley go to flower, but intend to next year.
Many people like to use parsley in the garden as an ornamental plant. The nice thing about the curly leafed variety is it can make a nice garden border especially in a kitchen garden. Even the the Italian parsley looks great growing among flowers.
Parsley seeds are also made into an oil used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes.
Language of Flowers
Parsley is said to represent Festivity. A perfect thought about this herb as it celebrates so many things in the garden and on the table as a ingredient and garnish in food.
“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” ~Philippus Theophrastrus Bombast that of Aureolus Paracelsus (1493-1541)
I hope you will join me for Seasonal Celebrations which is underway until the Equinox around the 21st. Read more about how to join in below.
Check out other posts in the series, Simply the Best-Herbs:
Come Join Us:
Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time. I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether summer or winter or something else. Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting September 1st.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South. Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.
Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (the 22nd of September). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create). The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!
Next up on the blog: I am having a blogging anniversary on the 13th. Then it will be time for GBBD.
I am linking in with [email protected]Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now. Most recent post is up.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.
40 Replies to “Simply The Best Herbs-September”
I love parsley and use it often for cooking and garnishing. I didn’t know it also has medicinal purposes. The Italian variety is my favorite, too! Thanks for the informative post, Donna 🙂
Glad you liked the info….parsley is just so versatile!
I always learn so much from your posts, Donna — I didn’t know parsley is a host plant for the swallowtail butterfly — I grow dill for that purpose. I think I will try growing parsley from seed next year — thanks for the heads-up about the long germination time. Love Philippus’s words of wisdom! P. x
How nice of you to say so Pam. I grow fennel, dill and parsley for the swallowtails as they seem to wander to any of these. You will love parsley as it is so easy to grow too.
Parsley is a great plant, so fresh and pretty. I am a curly parsley person. I like its texture. I dug up a plant from my garden and put it in a pot to go to Maine this year. It did die back but snapped right out of it. I think parsley has a taproot and that’s why it is considered difficult to transplant. Do you keep the parsley on your windowsill inside in winter or does it require grow lights?
Carolyn I have only been able to keep it going under grow lights but I do not have good light coming in from windows.
I’ve always been nuts about Italian parsley. One very simple thing I love to do with it is chop it up in a course way and put it with Ceci beans (garbanzo or cannellini beans), add the best olive oil I have plus sea salt. I find it delicious and a very healthy snack or as part of a salad. Parsley is loaded with healthy goodness as you point out. So simple to use too. Another thing I’ve discovered is that the heirloom tomato called “Black Krim”, a Russian Heirloom, has a flavor of parsley about it. Very unusual! But you can pick it out of the richness of the tomato flavor. Who would expect that?
Wow Susie how cool about the Black Krim. And I love that recipe. I will be trying that soon as I just love garbanzos, garlic and olive oil.
I like your first photo a lot – the first shot of parsley that’s a piece of art!
I use parsley a lot. I like the taste of it and its content of iron.
Very perceptive as I did make the first photo into an oil painting…glad you liked it Katarina!!
I love parsley, so enjoyed reading all this interesting information on it. I had problems with mine this summer… possibly the heat. But it seems to have recovered now. I grow both types and like both equally. Have you heard the saying that parsley seed goes nine times to the devil before germinating!
Cathy I had not heard that saying but it is perfect!!!
I am going to try to grow this next season… I learned so much…. Michelle
Michelle it would be perfect in one of your raised beds or a part shade slightly moist spot.
Another wonderful post, Donna! We have had a high demand for parsley at our house this summer… we got a young pet bunny, Ginger, who just adores it! I feed her a large handful everyday, because it is supposed to be a great source of calcium for rabbits. I also chop up a few handfuls with dry bread crumbs to top our Eggplant Parmesan. 🙂
Happy September to you!
Ginger is so lucky Julie. And I completely forgot about the bread crumbs. My mom used to do that too…thanks for bringing that back for me!!!
A very useful herb, so far most years it has lived outside all winter, just not looking great when the temperatures fell to minus 10 or so, but greening up to ready to use within a short time. Usually it just about flowers and needs throwing away as my new seedlings are just about ready for harvesting a few leaves. I wouldn’t want to be without it.
Sounds like it loves your garden Christina. I hope to get some to seed around. It does best for me and comes back when it is buried in the snow.
yay Donna! Parsley is the most successful herb that I grow. It loves the garden. I bought some plants years ago, planted them and left them. They just seed and seed themselves all over the place. The leaves get eaten – by me and my grandsons, picked as we wander,eaten raw, and by insects and /or possums, we don’t really know. And it’s added to every dish served, cooked or salad, with the exception of sweet dishes, but I bet parsley cake would probably be delish.
oh Catmint how yummy…a garden full of parsley!!!
I really like parsley and sow my seeds in early spring. They germinate best with a freeze/thaw cycle and lots of moisture. I usually grow it in pots and grow the curly kind for the butterflies and the Italian plain leaf variety to cook with. Plus, I think it’s pretty. 🙂
It is pretty…I grow mine in mid spring here and it does go through some cold spring weather. Seems to love it!!!
makes me want to run out to my garden in my pajamas and pluck some parsley just to nibble a festival in my mouth
thanks for this….really enjoyed and feeling a sweet inspire!
How sweet to inspire…yummy parsley anytime!!
Parsley is my most favourite herb – to me it adds “fresh” to any dish. I grow the curly variety and rather like it (I always select young shoots- the older shoots get woody). I am happy to report that mine came through winter without getting bitter But then the rabbits got hold of it and it was finished in a few meals! (Mine was in a cold frame and so I am not sure if that was the reason it did not get bitter.)
I bet the cold frame helps keep it less bitter Jennifer. I am hoping to grow both kinds again as someone devoured my curly variety. I had my Italian variety covered.
Funny that you would do a post on Parsley this week. I have been building a list of plants that attract the Syrphid-fly, which devours the aphids found on milkweed plants. Evidently plants in the Apiaceae, Asteraceae and Alliaceae fit the bill. Another feather in the hat for Parsley!
Beth I did not know this. I am so excited to learn another beneficial insect will love my parsley.
I didn’t grow parsley this year but I let my bronze fennel flower. Usually I cut it down because I’m afraid of it going to seed but this year I was thinking of the bees and how they love the flowers. So I let it do its blooming thing and I am going to be smart and get it cut before it goes to seed. One plant is fine, a bazillion, not so much.
I grew bronze fennel too and it had so many flowers. It is gorgeous but still not butterflies but the bees were happy here too!!
Hi Donna, I enjoyed your post. I grow parsley for the black swallowtails, and I’m happy to say I hosted a few black swallowtail caterpillars this summer. Have a wonderful wknd, Donna.
How lucky Beth to host those beauties. So glad you enjoyed the post!
I don’t really like parsley and generally appreciate it most when used lightly. It tends to overpower the other flavors. Strangely enough the one time I do like parsley is as chimichurri sauce (which is a whole lot of parsely) for grilled food.
Advanced congratulations on your blog anniversary!
Thanks Bom!! That sauce sounds yummy!!
my early recollections of parsley are chopping it to add to a white sauce to go with fish, the fish monger used to sell small bunches of it like flower posies, interesting facts Donna, thanks, Frances
What a yummy recollection…I love parsley with fish too!!! Glad you enjoyed the facts Frances…..
I too grow parsley, but it has not gotten any caterpillars in all those years yet. I let it flower and the insects do love it. I also grow it in the kitchen all year for cooking. Such a great all-round herb.
I plan to let some of mine go to flower for once and let the bees and me enjoy it!!
hmmm a border of Italian parsley – I think I’ll plan that in for the False Bay garden. We have a wild plant growing on the mountain, called blister bush, and hikers are warned NOT to touch what looks deceptively familiar.
I had heard about a lookalike plant…not one you would want to mistake for parsley.
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