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.
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.
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:
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 Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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