Annual herb growing to 1 ft (30 cm). Has an erect stem, bright green compound smooth or crinkled leaves, small white flowers growing in clusters, and small ribbed seeds.
Habitat & Cultivation
Parsley is native to Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. Today it is rarely found in the wild, but is cultivated throughout the world as a nutritious salad herb. The leaves may be picked from spring to autumn, and the seeds are gathered when just ripe.
Leaves, root, seeds.
Parsley contains a volatile oil (including about 20% myristicin, about 18% apiole, and many other terpenes), flavonoids, phthalides, coumarins (including bergapten), vitamins A, C, and E, and high levels of iron. The flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Myristicin and apiole have diuretic properties. The volatile oil relieves cramping pain and flatulence, and is a strong uterine stimulant.
History & Folklore
Parsley was known in ancient Greece and Rome—but more as a diuretic, digestive tonic, and menstrual stimulant than as a salad herb. In Rome, parsley was associated with the goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld, and was used in funeral ceremonies. Parsley was introduced to Britain in 1548.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The fresh leaves are highly nutritious and can be considered a natural vitamin and mineral supplement in their own right. The seeds have a much stronger diuretic action than the leaves, and may be substituted for celery seeds (Apium graveolens) in the treatment of gout, rheumatism, and arthritis.
Both plants act by encouraging the flushing out of waste products from the inflamed joints, and the waste’s subsequent elimination via the kidneys. Parsley root is taken as a treatment for flatulence, cystitis, and rheumatic conditions. Parsley is also valued as a promoter of menstruation, being helpful both in stimulating a delayed period and in relieving menstrual pain.
Parsley is a safe herb at normal dosage and consumption levels, but excessive quantities of the seeds are toxic. Do not take the seeds during pregnancy or if suffering from kidney disease.