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curly leaf parsley
Flat Parsley

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a bright green biennial herb, often used as spice. It is common in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Parsley is used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although parsley has a milder flavor.


Two forms of parsley are used as herbs: curly leaf (P. crispum) and Italian, or flat leaf (P. neapolitanum). Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The use of curly leaf parsley may be favored by some because it cannot be confused with poison hemlock, like flat leaf parsley or chervil. The produce code for parsley is 4899, or 4900.

Root parsley

root parsley
Another type of parsley is grown as a root vegetable, as with hamburg root parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum). This type of parsley produces much thicker roots than types cultivated for their leaves. Although little known in Britainmarker and the United Statesmarker, root parsley is very common in Central and Eastern European cuisine, used in soups and stews. Parsley grows best between 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 30 degrees Celsius).

Though it looks similar to parsnip it tastes quite different. Parsnips are among the closest relatives of parsley in the umbellifer family of herbs. The similarity of the names is a coincidence, parsnip meaning "forked turnip"; it is not related to real turnips.


Parsley's germination is notoriously difficult to achieve. Germination is inconsistent and may require 3-6 weeks.

Furanocoumarins in parsley's seed coat may be responsible for parsley's problematic germination. These compounds may inhibit the germination of other seeds, allowing parsley to compete with nearby plants. However, parsley itself may be affected by the furanocoumarins. Soaking parsley seeds overnight before sowing shortens the germination period.

Parsley grows well in deep pots, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight a day.

Companion plant

Parsley is widely used as a companion plant in gardens. Like many other umbellifers, it attracts predatory insects, including wasps and predatory flies to gardens, which then tend to protect plants nearby. For example, they are especially useful for protecting tomato plants as the wasps that kill tomato hornworms also eat nectar from parsley. While parsley is biennial, not blooming until its second year, even in its first year it is reputed to help cover up the strong scent of the tomato plant, reducing pest attraction.


Culinary use

In Central and Eastern Europe and in West Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Green parsley is often used as a garnish. The fresh flavor of the green parsley goes extremely well with potato dishes (french fries, boiled buttered potatoes or mashed potato), with rice dishes (risotto or pilaf), with fish, fried chicken, lamb or goose, steaks, meat or vegetable stews (like beef bourguignon, goulash or chicken paprikash). In Southern and Central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used to flavor stocks, soups, and sauces. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups like chicken soup, green salads or salads like Salade Olivier, on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés. Parsley is a key ingredient in several West Asian salads, e.g., tabbouleh (the national dish of Lebanonmarker). Persillade is mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley in the French cuisine. Gremolata is a traditional accompaniment to the Italian veal stew, ossobuco alla milanese, a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

In addition, the consumption of parsley is thought to contribute to sweet smelling breath.

Root parsley is very common in Central and Eastern European cuisines, where it is used as soup vegetable in many soups and in most meat or vegetable stews and casseroles.

Medicinal uses

  • Tea may be used as an enema. Chinese and German herbologists recommend parsley tea to help control high blood pressure, and the Cherokees used it as a tonic to strengthen the bladder. It is also often used as an emmenagogue.
  • Parsley also appears to increase diuresis by inhibiting the Na+/K+-ATPase pump in the kidney, thereby enhancing sodium and water excretion while increasing potassium reabsorption. It is also valued as an aquaretic.
  • When crushed and rubbed on the skin, parsley can reduce itching in mosquito bites.
  • When chewed, parsley can freshen bad breath.

Health risks

  • Parsley should not be consumed as a drug or supplement by pregnant women. Parsley as an oil, root, leaf, or seed could lead to uterine stimulation and preterm labor.
  • Parsley is high (1.70% by mass, [3753]) in oxalic acid, a compound involved in the formation of kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies.
  • Parsley oil contains furanocoumarins and psoralens which leads to extreme photosensitivity if used orally.

  • Parsley seeds contain a high level of oil and are a diuretic.


  1. John W. Jett. "That Devilish Parsley." West Virginia University Extension Service. Last retrieved April 26, 2007.
  2. June Meyers Authentic Hungarian Heirloon Recipes Cookbook
  3. Health effects:Furanocoumarins, chemical photosensitivity & photodermatitis

See also

External links


Image:Parsley bush.jpg|Parsley BushImage:Parsley Curled.jpg|Curled ParsleyImage:Petroselinum neapolitanum flower.jpg|Flat Parsley flowerImage:Parsley white flower.jpg|Flat Parsley white flowerImage:Parsley2.jpg|Parsley bush

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