Parsley grows best in zones 2-11. This leafy herb thrives in full to partial sun and may grow in a clump up to 12 inches tall and wide. Parsley grows best in rich, well-drained soil, and dry soil should be avoided. While Parsley is technically a biennial plant, it should be grown as an annual plant in cold areas due to its tendency to die in cold winters (1). Parsley is in the carrot family and shares a leaf shape similar to celery, cilantro, parsnip, and other common herbs and vegetables. Parsley can be identified by its long, thin stem and triangular, toothed leaves, which are bright green in color and come in two main varieties: curly and flat-leafed (3). Flat-leafed parsley has a stronger, sweeter flavor than other varieties do, which makes it more preferable for cooking. However, the shape of its leaves are almost identical to the weed, Fool’s Parsley, which has a darker green color and is poisonous to eat (4). Less commonly known are the Hamburg and Japanese parsley. The Hamburg parsley grows as a root resembling a parsnip. Parsley flowers resemble the prairie flower Queen Anne’s Lace and attract beneficial insects such as butterfly larvae (5). Parsley can be planted for ornamental purposes since the bright green color of the leaves brings out the color of pansies, petunias, and other annual flowers.
Parsley seeds take a notoriously long time to germinate and can take up to a month to sprout. Although this is the case, seed propagation produces the best growing results. To speed up the propagation time, it is recommended to soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Seeds can be started indoors during the winter 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Seeds can also be sown directly into the ground after the danger of spring frost. Parsley is an easy herb to grow indoors, requiring adequate sunlight, holes in the pot for good drainage, and ample water (2). Leaves can be harvested by clipping the outside stalks, allowing continuous growth throughout the season (2). When parsley is planted in companionship with roses, it can enhance the roses’ scent. Pests to watch out for include carrot weevils, parsley worms, and nematodes. The parsley worm may be best left alone since it will transform into a black swallowtail butterfly that will eventually pollinate flowers (6).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Parsley is well-known as an edible and medicinal herb that contains a lot of nutrient. The plant is a rich source of vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin, and calcium. It contains a high chlorophyll content, which helps in freshening one’s breath (5). The herb increases circulation and has diuretic and laxative qualities that aid in detoxification as well as weight loss and support healthy digestion as well as urinary tract. (7) Parsley contains a valuable source of flavonoids and volatile oils such as myristicin. Myristicin has chemoprotective benefits that have been shown to slow down cancer growth (10).
Parsley is best when eaten fresh, but it dries well and can be stored up to a year after drying (8). The plant is a staple in Middle Eastern salads, such as tabbouleh, and can be used with basil in making pesto. Parsley's versatile qualities make it a great addition to stews, soups, salads, sauces, salsas, burgers, and more (9).
Significance to Cultural Communities
Parsley was greatly feared by the Greeks since the herb was associated with death. According to legend, the plant first grew from the blood of Archemorus, the old fertility king, whose name means ʺforerunner of death.ʺ The Romans dedicated the herb to Persephone and funeral rites. Medieval home gardeners associated parsley with evil, and a virgin who planted parsley was said to run the risk of being impregnated by Satan. Germination was said to be slow because the seeds had to travel to hell and back two, three, seven, or nine times (depending on sources) before they could grow. Modern science shows that parsley contains furanocoumarins, chemicals that may interfere with the germination process (11). Mexican herbalists claim that consumption of parsley tea can cure alcoholism and relieve upset digestion as well as menstrual cramps (7).
From The Community Voice
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
On the side of a hill in the deep forest green.
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown.
Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Without no seams nor needle work,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.”
- ”Scarborough Fair,” Simon and Garfunkel
1. Jett, John W. "That Devilish Parsley." West Virginia University Science Extension, Web. Sept. 2014. http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/herbs/parsley.htm.
2. "Parsley. Characteristics of Parsley Plant. Active Ingredients." - Pharmacognosy. Web. 05 Sept. 2014. http://www.medicinalplants-pharmacognosy.com/herbs-medicinal-plants/parsley/.
3. "Parsley." National Gardening Bureau Inc. National Gardening Bureau Inc, 1999. Web. "Parsley." National Gardening Bureau Inc. National Gardening Bureau Inc, 1999. Web. http://ngb.org/todays_garden/index.cfm?TGID=28
4. "Parsley." BBC Good Food. Web. 05 Sept. 2014. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/parsley.
5."Parsleyworm." Parsleyworm.Web. 05 Sept. 2014. http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Pests/parsley.htm.
6. Brobst, Joyce E. Essential Facts for Parsley Herb Society. Web. http://www.herbsociety.org/herbs/documents/Parsleyfactsheet_000.pdf.
7. "Growing Parsley." Growing Parsley. Web. 05 Sept. 2014. http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/nebline/parsley.shtml.
8. "Parsley." BBC Good Food. Web. 05 Sept. 2014. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/parsley.
9. "Parsley Health Benefits - Growing Your Own Medicine." Parsley Health Benefits - Growing Your Own Medicine. Web. 05 Sept. 2014. <http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_industryhealthiermedica141.htm>.
10.""Scarborough Fair / Canticle" Lyrics." SIMON & GARFUNKEL LYRICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/scarboroughfaircanticle.html.